Mosquitos: the bane of summer fun. Carriers of deadly disease and all around nuisance. Truly, a miserable and seemingly worthless creature. But therein lies the keyword: seemingly.
What if, despite the nuisance that mosquitos pose for the majority of the world’s human population, these blooduscking insects actually served a greater purpose?
This brief article will go into some of the reasons why mosquitos might just be necessary for our world to continue operating smoothly.
10 Benefits of Mosquitos
1. The Food Chain
Mosquitos lay their eggs in water, which make their larvae a breed of aquatic insect. Therefore, mosquito larvae inevitably end up playing an important role in the aquatic food chain.
In a pond biome, the mosquito larvae is the primary consumer of algae, which is the main producer in the biome. From there, mosquito larvae feed bigger insects, which feed fish, which feed other larger aquatic animals and land mammals.
This type of food chain is a very delicate process with exceedingly important repercussions. Without mosquito larvae to feed on, the larger insects in the pond biome are unable to eat, and thus unable to feed even larger animals. And so on.
While mosquitos are certainly nowhere near to claiming the title of pollinating powerhouse (a title which rests with the bees and butterflies), they are still an integral part of providing a pollinating system to aquatic plants as well as those other plants nearby their aquatic habitat.
Unlike bees and butterflies, mosquitos do not have an inherent ability to carry copious amounts of pollen on their bodies. However, they are still able to carry small amounts of pollen that they move between flowers during their feedings.
Only female mosquitos feed on blood, and then only when they are looking for a good source of protein for their eggs. Beyond that, the mosquitos’ main diet is actually flower nectar.
By helping to propagate aquatic plant life in particular, mosquitos contribute to the greater ecosystem and help plants grow that, in turn, provide shelter or food for other creatures in their shared biome.
3. Mosquito Saliva: A Health Benefit?
There is a growing field of research that is looking at the possible health benefits of mosquito saliva. For instance, mosquito bites are often not felt because mosquito saliva has an anesthetizing agent in its chemical makeup.
This anesthetic property could potentially be used for local and topical anesthetics during patient care in a way that is naturally derived.
Mosquito saliva could also serve as an anticlotting agent, which would be incredibly beneficial in cardiovascular studies and disease.
However, these studies require quite a deal more research and consideration before they can be considered serious.
4. Environmental Destruction
While there are plenty of arguments that claim mosquitos are not necessary, there is an important factor that many of these individuals ignore: eradicating mosquitos would require a massive ecological disruption.
To dispose of mosquitos, swamps and wetlands would need to be drained and the amount of pesticides that would need to be used would kill far more than just mosquitos. Thus, their eradication is not only illogical, but irresponsible.
5. Arctic Food Source
For many birds, especially, on the arctic tundra, the disappearance of mosquitos would mean a seriously limited food source which could lead to eventual starvation or migration of natural species in the area.
Such a mass starvation or migration would seriously affect the ecology of the arctic tundra, which could cause a number of unforetold issues.
6. Population Control
While it is certainly not seen as a highly beneficial aspect of mosquitos, their ability to transport diseases across wide areas is actually beneficial to controlling certain populations. The fact that humans are one of those populations is highly unfortunate.
Disease vectors carried by bacteria and viruses are something that no one wants to come in contact with, and yet they are a natural and integral part of the world. Adapting to diseases is just another part of the world experience, which includes the human experience.
This is not to say that human death due to mosquito disease transference is by ANY means a good thing. This point simply looks at the raw biology of the situation.
7. Nutrient Recyclers
Since mosquito larvae feed primarily on algae, they serve as nutrient recyclers in the greater aquatic biomes in which they lives. In other words, they help to ensure that the nutrients in their pond are reused by the biome at large generation after generation.
8. So Much Left Unknown
One of the dangers of considering mosquito eradication is that research on the insect has not even begun to scratch the surface. Bringing about their extinction today could mean that a special chemical in their saliva is gone tomorrow.
There is, of course, no way to know if this scenario would ever happen, but discussing the potential mass death of any creature should always be done with the right amount of caution.
9. Only Half a Population
In the grand scheme of things, mosquito bites are actually only due to half of the species, and even then, only during certain times.
The female of the species is the only one to actually seek out warm blood. And they will only feed on blood when they are preparing to lay eggs. So rather than a bloodthirsty hunter, the mosquito is actually just a caring mom.
10. Basic Biology
The bottom line of the question of “purpose” when it comes to biology is that, sometimes, it is better not to wonder. After all, the argument could be made that humans are far more destructive than a simple mosquito.
Every living creature has its role to play in the greater biological playground that is the world. While mosquitos may not have a clearly defined role, they have still made their place in the world after millions of years of evolution.
Admittedly, there are not that many factors that can be put forth to argue for the beneficial nature of the mosquito. Primarily, they serve their purpose as a part of their aquatic biome, as part time pollinators, and as a type of population control medium.
For many, none of these reasons are good enough to continue to support the existence of the mosquito. But in that case, one must consider the sheer amount of ecological destruction it would take to rid the world of this “pest.”
In the end, biology and the ecosystem will do what it must to survive, and so far, the mosquito has proven itself one of the top survivors.