Should we make all mosquitos extinct?

Originally published at: Should we make all mosquitos extinct? | Boing Boing


I imagine the less-likely-to-unintentionally-fuck-up-the-entire-ecosystem route would probably be to wipe out the deadly bacteria, viruses and parasites carried by those mosquitoes but that’s probably a much taller order. Plus you’d still have the annoyance of mosquito bites, of course.


Agreed. I don’t know about mosquitoes, but black flies, which many Ontarians would cheerfully wipe out, are important pollinators of some plants, including blueberries.


To say nothing of all the critters that like to eat small insects.


No, nope.


Is anyone even seriously suggesting making all mosquitoes extinct? I’ve only ever heard it proposed for certain specific species, as the video description mentions.

I remember years ago when this was being proposed seeing interviews with leading entomologists and I was amazed to see that most of them seem to think that, actually, these specific species don’t seem to be a vital part of the ecosystem as far as they can tell, and aren’t key food sources for things like bats, frogs, etc., so many of them weren’t fundamentally opposed to the idea. Weird to hear scientists expressing that sentiment, but then again I’ve never had to worry much about my children dying from malaria or other mosquito-spread diseases.


I think too many critters rely on them for food. Though maybe in some locations where they are really bad, it would be prudent to cut their numbers way back.

Ideally, we could cure the diseases they carry and inoculate/cure people.


What animals eat those mosquitos?

Let’s say a huge reduction in that mosquito species leads to a reduction in the number of bats and birds and frogs in those locales. How would their lower numbers impact the rest of the ecosystem?

[ETA: I recently read or heard some study on “white nose syndrome” in bats, and how the sudden drop in bat population impacted other parts of the ecosystem, including farm yields, so I can’t help but think eradicating a species will have unintended consequences you can’t predict even with thorough research and computer models.]


We’ve already made and will continue to make thousands of species extinct. What’s one more?


But do they rely on specific species for food? There are over 3000 species of mosquitoes. I wonder if the other critters would even notice if, say, Aedes albopictus went away. Obviously that’s the kind of question that scientists would need to be very, very sure about before attempting anything like this.

I would assume that any of these plans would need to include keeping a reserve population of these little beasties in a lab, ready to reintroduce to nature if needed. Like tiny little California Condors.


No. But wiping out Aedes aegypti from the New World, for example, would be a good thing. They’re an invasive species that spreads all sorts of diseases. Eliminating them would cut down on mosquito-borne illnesses, and their ecological niche would be recovered by native mosquitoes.

Similarly, if we could kill off Anopheles gambiae and Anopheles funestus, the two main malaria vectors, it would reduce illnesses and deaths by an awful lot. It wouldn’t end malaria infections entirely, since there are plenty other Anopheles mosquitoes and others that can spread it, but similarly there would scarcely be any major ecological effects, as other mosquitoes would take over.


That was my reaction – skit-fellers (mosquitos) are a major food source for many critters. Disrupt the food chain and see what happens, hey? Hint: ecological collapse. Mass extinctions. Bad stuff.


Bats and Swallows around here. At dusk we watch them swooping around feasting on the skeeters.


Carlsbad Cavern Nat’l Park is famed for bat flights at dusk and dawn. The nearest town, White City, New Mexico, features eateries, fuel stations, and motels lit 24-hours by bright lights… which attract flying bugs, which attract hungry bats, who swoop & swirl & feed. Gnarly!


jurassic park GIF by IFC




Humans have already decreased many of those critters habitats significantly - down to levels where they live in an environment with an overabundance of food (small insects) that aren’t as affected by human development.

That’s probably why the entomologists are ok with this. Too many mosquitos, not enough mosquito predators.


Also because the little bastards are as irritating as hell when you just want to head out to the field to spend an afternoon studying the mating habits of Giraffe Weevils or something.


Short answer…

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Acolytes of the Church of Holy Skit-Fellers will seek you out. Run!

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