Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mosquitoes: Why?



Ow. Not me, stupid. But yes, that's the general sentiment. They're buzzy and blood-sucky and annoying and they make you itch and the hardier ones go right through the damned bug spray and they spread malaria and West Nile and who knows what else and DIE DIE DIE YOU EVIL ACCURSED SPAWNS OF HELL.

But hang on. This is one of God's creatures, right? Surely everything must have a purpose! Even these blasted things!

Ehhhhhh, not all that much. If one lives in an ecosystem with animals that eat mosquitoes, then yes, the mosquitoes are important in a food-chain sense. Frogs eat them, fish eat them, and we certainly need frogs and fish.

But then, frogs and fish can eat other stuff too.

But if you're talking things like cross-pollination or a genetic trait we as humans can use... nope. No good reason for the things to exist.

This is the best defense that John Carlson of Tulane University could come up with when posed the question in September 2000:

The mosquitoes that were biting you in Coasta [sic] Rica probably do not have a purpose in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem there. Some may be eaten by frogs or fish, but there are plenty of other insects for those animals to eat. If all of the mosquitoes were killed, the ecosystem would probably not suffer, unless the poisons used to kill them also killed organisms that are required for the balance of the rainforests. (This is one very difficult problem with trying to control pest insects!)

No one knows, however, all of the secret chemicals those mosquitoes might have. One day, one of the chemicals inside a mosquito might be used to make a new drug. If all of the mosquitoes were killed, scientists would never have the chance to find out.

Also, mosquitoes have many fascinating life styles. They carry many fascinating parasites between different animals. So for people who love to learn about the strange way that life works, those mosquitoes have a purpose that way too.

So the mosquito's primary purpose in life is intellectual masturbation, then? Pass. I do that all the time around here anyway.

As far as you're concerned, mosquitoes are really only worth keeping alive if you're the kind of person who doesn't like to kill anything, no matter how small.

As far as I'm concerned, if they're spreading disease and have me on the menu, it's them or me.

So go ahead and swat that mosquito. Swat all you like. Do it for your health. Do it for your complexion. Do it... for America.

No comments: