A mosquito – scientists take pains to tell us – is “a slender long-legged fly with aquatic larvae” that’s found in every region of the world, except in Antarctica.
[Sheesh... Antarctica is the world’s fifth-largest continent – and is the coldest, windiest, driest region on Planet Earth this side of Heaven!] Then the scientists twist the knife in by adding that “the bite of the bloodsucking female mosquito can transmit a number of serious diseases...”
According to ‘Wikipedia,’ the name ‘mosquito’ is Spanish for ‘a little
fly’: mosca meaning a fly – to which is added the diminutive -ito for ‘little’... There are about 3,500 species of mosquitoes, some dating back to about 226 million years!
The female of most mosquito species has tube-like mouthparts called a ‘proboscis,’ with which it pierces a host’s skin – and imbibes blood which contains the protein and iron needed to produce eggs.
Incidentally, mosquitoes DON’T bite; they pierce one’s skin... Many mosquito species inject and ingest disease-causing organisms with their piercing – and are, thus, vectors of deadly diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, Chikungunya, West Nile virus, dengue fever, filariasis, Zika virus and other arboviruses.
On April 25, 2014, the world-renown business tycoon-cum-philanthropist Bill Gates named the mosquito “the deadliest (creature) in the world – judging by how many people are killed by (creatures) every year... ”
[Google for ‘The Deadliest Animal in the World’ by Bill Gates]. According to data collated by different sources – including WHO and FAO – mosquitoes kill an average of 725,000 people annually.
By comparison, other killer creatures (with the average number of their victims annually shown in brackets) are: humans (they kill 475,000 fellow humans annually); snakes (50,000 humans/year); dogs (25,000 rabies deaths/year); tsetse flies (10,000 sleeping sickness deaths/year), and assassin/kissing bugs (10,000 deaths/year from chagas disease/American trypanosomiasis).
Freshwater snails (10,000 human deaths/year from ‘schistosomiasis); Ascaris roundworms (2,500 Ascariasis deaths/year); tapeworms (2,000 human deaths/year); crocodiles (1,000 deaths/year); hippos (500 deaths); elephants (100); lions (100 deaths); wolves (10 deaths); sharks (10 deaths)...
So... While sharks manage to kill ONLY about ten humans a year – with rampaging lions killing only 100 worldwide – the tiny mosquito sends some 750,000 humans to an early grave annually across Planet Earth this side of Hades!
In efforts to avoid vector-borne diseases, the Ifakara Health Institute (IHI) in Morogoro Region has invented a “low-cost repellent-treated sandals that provide round-the-clock protection against dengue, zika, chikungunya and malaria...”
Wear the ‘Mozzie’ sandals, the researchers tell us – and keep infection-bearing ’quitos at bay. [See Editorial, The Citizen: July 12, 2019].
But, I’m somewhat dismayed by remarks by the deputy Health minister, Dr Faustine Ndugulile, that mosquitoes have undergone behavioural change so much that it’s no longer possible to contain, control, them!
[See ‘Behaviour change in mosquitoes making them difficult to contain;’
The Citizen, July 10, 2019].
According to Ndugulile, disease-transmitting mosquitoes which used to noisily fly high now silently fly low – and ‘bite’ humans in broad daylight, instead of stealthily biting at night!
If these are functionally-researched findings, then bed-nets are redundant – and we’ve to go back to the drawing boards for new ’quito control measures. Sheesh!