Mosquitos and Man

Has any bug plagued mankind as much as the mosquito? Sure roaches are a pest and a nuisance. But last we checked they didn’t spread vicious and deadly diseases. Cockroaches also, interestingly enough don’t bite. In fact, more than anything they’re an eyesore. Now, while we imagine no one would want a cockroach to show up in their home, a mosquito could be a lot worse. In fact, Mosquitoes have made their presence known in the world all throughout history. They have played a part in every major war you can think of.

Mosquitoes On The Battlefield

Did you know that in some wars infections took more lives than combat wounds? This was in a time before we had MAD weapons when wars were still fought with soldiers. But rather than being shot or dying of blood loss, soldiers were cut down by disease. In wars fought in the past, mosquitos were responsible for the spread of diseases through the ages. Including but not limited to World War II.

During world war, II Aedes Aegypti Mosquitoes gave the American forces a significant advantage. America moved ten thousand troops into malaria riddled zones in the South Pacific. They were fighting the Japanese. Part of the reason they were successful is because they were able to cope with the disease. They had the resources to keep their troops healthy against the virus. The Japanese soldiers were not so lucky.

In fact mosquitoes played a major part in wars on both sides well up until the 20th century. But it hasn’t just been war zones where Mosquitos haven’t damaged the efforts of mankind.

Mosquitoes In Engineering

The Panama Canal was a massive and elaborate engineering concept. It would provide trade passages connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. Work was started by the French in 1881. But they were forced to stop due to high mortality rates in workers. This was largely caused by tropical diseases like Malaria and Yellow Fever. It was Anopheles mosquitoes playing their part spreading the disease. In that time, there was no way to prevent the spread of infections. The stagnant water also attracted the mosquitoes to the site of construction.

But as we know today, this bold move was eventually completed by the Americans. They took over the project in 1881 and saw it to completion in 1914. As we already mentioned the building work wasn’t the biggest problem. It was the risk of infections being spread through workers. The Americans were able to solve this issue, with a huge sanitation effort.  Research around what attracts mosquitoes and causes the spreads of infection was still in infant stages. But the Americans were able to formulate a plan. This included eradicating infested areas and getting rid of stagnant water. It was a huge effort that ultimately proved to be incredibly successful.

Mosquitoes In The Modern Age

Before the 1990’s diseases like Yellow Fever and others that mosquitoes were known to spread were eradicated. At least from the developed world. This was partly due to the developments in modern medicine but there was also another factor. The mosquito population in the developed world had been reduced, thanks to new extensive pesticides being used on grown crops. But, during the 90’s new fears spread through society. People started to worry that these pesticides could be harmful to human health and the environment. Due to this food was once again grown organically with fewer pesticides being used. At that point, the Mosquito population increased again and cases of Yellow Fever were once again more apparent.

That brings us to today. Mosquitoes are becoming an issue again for two reasons. The first is the global climate. Naysayers may doubt the validity of global warming. Yet, scientists have no doubt that global warming is raising temperatures in the north. It’s the reason countries like Britain are now seeing Mosquito invasions in the summer. News stories have claimed thousands of pests are on their way to british shores every year. Worse still, they’re disease infected.

It’s also the reason there’s a risk disease ridden Aedes Genus Mosquitoes could plague America. They’re attracted to the warmer temperatures. Right now, however, the Mosquitoes are carrying the Zika Virus. This is being brought in by people travelling back from infected areas. Although not thought to be dangerous, the full threat of this virus has not yet been fully realised.

Thus, it seems clear that Mosquitoes have played a crucial part in shaping mankind's history, arguably more than any other best. While in the past the man has been triumphant, new health scares show that the war is far from over.