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Mozzies, the super pest

Did you know that worldwide 219 million people get malaria, 435,000 die from contracting it and 90% of those deaths are in Africa. Compared with 500 who die from hippo attacks, a 1000 from crocodiles and 25,000 by dogs. Don't mosquitos drive you mad whining and buzzing around your head, disturbing your sleep? The mozzie is a serious pest, an insect that can drink three times its body weight of blood in one meal and collectively kill more people than any weapon.

They are superb transmitters of disease, including five forms of malaria, yellow fever, zika and West Nile virus, this is despite us having the pesticides to keep them at bay. Previously advanced chemical formulations in the form of modern pesticides were not available. It is considered that of the 100 billion people that have ever lived, half of them may have been killed by malaria.

Malaria has featured and won many significant military battles throughout history including attacks on Rome, the Vietnam war and British Imperial forces in Southern Africa. It has claimed many famous leaders, Tutankhamun, Ghengis Khan and Alexander the Great along with 95 million people in Central and South America who succumbed after European colonists took malarial mozzies with them, all have fallen victim to the tiny mosquito.

Mozzies have a lot to answer for, the collapse of societies, the rise and fall of DDT and the failure of grand invasion plans. At all times keep in mind the vision of the sheer destructive power of the tiny insect.

We can use pesticides to kill them, elephants wrinkle their skin to crush them, whatever your preferred method, one which needs to work effectively in the future will be gene edited biotechnology to produce infertility in the females, perhaps then we will start to see us winning the battle. However, a final word of caution, some species of mosquito like Aedes and Anopheles have adapted well to warmer latitudes. For animals that begun by parasiting dinosaurs and then jumped to birds and mammals, global warming should be a "walk in the park".

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