Monday, February 28, 2011

Mosquitoes have a place in the scheme of things. Really.

A friend asked on FB the other day, and I quote “These bloody mosquitoes, what use are they? What part do they play in the scheme of things?”

Quick as a flash, the responses came:
“Malaria”.
“Food for spiders”.
“To provide researchers something to study”.

Good replies all, but it got me thinking, and being of a literal frame of mind I consulted that well known academic powerhouse “Google” with "what are mosquitoes good for" and promptly came across some informative articles. None checked for authenticity, timeliness or a myriad of other things I’d insist on with students! but all with similar information.

from Wikimedia Commons
I had no idea they were so important to our survival, really those small annoying blood suckers simply seemed like, well, just plain irritating. Bzzzt, swat, bzzzt, swat, neeeeooooooow, swat, ouch, (as you whack your nose or ear) particularly when you’re trying to get off to sleep, you eventually turn the light on to try to find the little sucker, of course never can, turn the light off, and the bzzzt, swat act goes on 'till you eventually sink, exhausted into a fitful, twitchy sleep.

Mosquitoes ensure our survival
It seems however, that they’re essential to our survival on earth. I had no idea that the males, being nectar feeders, help pollinate a large variety of plants, helping out the bees in times of plenty. And yes, they do provide food, but not only for spiders, but for many other creatures as well. Bats, fish and dragonflies find them particularly tasty and their existence adds to the glorious variety and intricate web of life of which we are but a small ego centred part.

But they're nectar feeders! I think that's amazing. It's a bit like discovering that Vlad the Impaler was a sweety pie,  and had somehow just got bad press and was a bit misunderstood.

Illnesses
Interestingly mosquitoes have hit the news recently with reported cases of Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus soaring since the flooding up in Northern Victoria. Stagnant water is the problem, and with the flood waters taking their time to recede, their numbers will only get worse over the coming months.

There have been news reports that these illnesses are also spreading further south. The female mosquito is the culprit. But given what I’ve just discovered, it seems the best thing is to get rid of stagnant water in the garden. Admittedly this is impossible in flooded areas, but important in suburbia.

In the northern areas of Australia malaria is on the rise, and we’re encouraged to tip out as much pooling water as possible from odds and ends lying around in the garden. Easier said than done with the constant rain, but good advice nonetheless.

As one writer said, there could be no flowers, fruits or songbirds without the mosquito. We just need to learn to keep ourselves safe from their bite and take precautions to discourage their spread.

So while my friend may still curse the little vampires, she’ll do it knowing how essential they are in the scheme of things.

I've written a Drabble about mosquitoes at jumpingaground.
.

4 comments:

David L Macaulay said...

Cool - I had no idea of that Sue. I always thought Mozzies were good for nothing at all.

sue said...

David. ditto. Logic tells me everything is useful somehow, but mozzies? never!

Bob said...

They could be 'gold-plated' and still not make it on my list of bearable yuckies! Hate 'em. Dengue Fever, and Ross R.V. are too horrible - along with Malaria. I've seen the victims. I think He made a boo-boo with the invention of mozzies.

Tx for your comment, Sue. I wrote a reply, too.

sue said...

Bob, I don't think I'll ever like them, and the diseases are horrible. One person stated that they've killed more people than anything other than man and they're a kind of natural selection thing.