The humble, or perhaps not so humble homo sapien has been walking the Earth with its calloused monkey-feet for around 200,000 years now, while mosquitoes have been flying around for over 30 million years. During that time, mosquitoes have evolved into highly effective blood-seeking, disease inducing animals of death and pure suffering. To be as blunt as I can possibly be, it’s time for all mosquitoes to die. 30 million years is a very long time for any one species to exist and taking into consideration the very little they provide to our ecosystem, as well as the mountains of death and agony they inflict on millions upon millions of people and other animals worldwide, it seems quite evident that they have overstayed their welcome on this planet.
Some mosquito apologists claim that not all of them bite or not all of them carry diseases. Although it is true that not all mosquitoes bite, this doesn’t get us very far. 50% of all mosquitoes don’t suck blood. This is by virtue of the fact that only female mosquitoes bite, requiring the blood for egg production (as if we needed them to have more incentive to suck our blood). This means that half of all mosquitoes alive at this very moment are worth worrying about seeing as how these are the mosquitoes that are transmitting the deadly viruses.
As far as the mosquitoes who do not carry diseases, this is simply not enough to justify allowing millions upon millions of people to suffer and die by the bite of those who do carry such diseases. I hate to make over 3,000 species of mosquitoes all inherently guilty as though they all have original sin or something, desperately in need of their savior Mosquito Jesus, but the reality is that as a whole, the painful death and utter human misery that mosquitoes inflict upon millions of people every passing year far outweighs their tepid contributions to this planet.
Some mosquito apologists claim they provide vital benefits to our ecosystem, such as to provide food to other animals and to pollinate flowers. While this is certainly true, these benefits are dismally infinitesimal and irrelevant. This is akin to saying that virtually all rapists that exist and have ever existed have all payed their taxes, thus contributing to society in beneficial ways that help the entire economy thrive, in lieu of the harm they cause to any coherent society. Yes, virtually everything that exists has benefits when you dig deep enough, but at what cost?
According to the website Mosquito Reviews, “As part of their useful role, the larvae of mosquitoes live in water and provide food for fish and other wildlife, including larger larvae of other species such as dragonflies. The larvae themselves eat microscopic organic matter in the water, helping to recycle it. Adult mosquitoes make up part of the diet of some insect-eating animals, such as birds, bats, adult dragonflies and spiders. They also help pollinate some flowers, when they consume nectar.”
Again, although they do have some benefits, the ones they do have are miniscule and have no bearing on the wellbeing of any living creature. If all mosquitoes were to be exterminated by the end of the day, there isn’t one animal alive that would miss their presence the day after. There is a plethora of insects that exist on this planet for all of those insect-eating animals to have full bellies throughout the day. In fact, it is estimated that at any time, there are around 10 quintillion (10,000,000,000,000,000,000) individual insects alive.
Even if there was indeed a way that we could only kill the mosquitoes that currently carry diseases (as if such an endeavor could ever be possible), while simultaneously saving the non-infected mosquitoes, then I would be all for that. Such a situation seems like it would be the absolute best-case scenario, in lieu of curing all diseases of course. However, there doesn’t seem to be a practical way to do this. Plus, it will only be a matter of time before the non-infected mosquitoes become infected after sucking the blood of an already infected animal.
So, this means that we would simply have no choice other than to accept any and all mosquito casualties as collateral damage for the cause of the greater good, which is to reduce unnecessary suffering and premature death among the animals mosquitoes frequently feed on, such as ourselves.
Mosquito-borne diseases are caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites transmitted by mosquitoes. However, what is truly insidious is that mosquitoes can transmit diseases to people and other animals without being affected by the diseases themselves. Diseases transmitted by mosquitoes include malaria, West Nile virus, Zika fever, dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever, tularemia, dirofilariasis, Keystone virus, Saint Louis encephalitis, Western equine encephalitis, filariasis, Eastern equine encephalitis, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, Ross River fever, Barmah Forest fever, Japanese encephalitis, La Crosse encephalitis, and Rift Valley fever. To simply put just one of these diseases into perspective, malaria kills one child every 40 seconds, according to the American Mosquito Control Association.
Nearly 700 million people get a mosquito-borne illness each year resulting in over one million deaths. With so much death and suffering all at the hands (or proboscises) of mosquitoes, why aren’t they affected by the diseases they carry? Mosquitoes carrying deadly viruses stay healthy because their immune systems recognize the virions as foreign particles and “chop off” the virus’s genetic coding, rendering it dormant. Human infection with a mosquito-borne virus occurs when a female mosquito bites someone while its immune system is still in the process of destroying the virus’s harmful coding.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Mosquitoes are one of the deadliest animals in the world. Their ability to carry and spread disease to humans causes millions of deaths every year. In 2015 malaria alone caused 438,000 deaths. The worldwide incidence of dengue has risen 30-fold in the past 30 years, and more countries are reporting their first outbreaks of the disease. Zika, dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever are all transmitted to humans by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. More than half of the world’s population live in areas where this mosquito species is present.” If this quote leaves you feeling indifferent in any way, then perhaps your insouciance is due to mild sociopathy rather than strong principles.
The Ethics of Killing all Mosquitoes
How do you think mosquitoes would feel about my position on this matter? Could you imagine any of them agreeing with me? Assuredly, if they were all made aware of my convictions that they should all be killed, I would probably not make it through the night alive. Would this make their behavior to want to preserve their species by eradicating anything that threatens their wellbeing any less ethical than it would be for me to want to do the same for the sake of my own species? No, it wouldn’t. This is Darwinian evolution at its most basic form, the survival of the fittest.
Humans are not inherently more special or more valuable than mosquitoes are. We only believe this to be true because we are inherently biased to want to preserve our own species over any other species. Mosquitoes have this very same bias about themselves too. My point here is to say that the ethics of this matter are dependent upon which side of the equation you’re on. If you’re a human wanting to exterminate all mosquitoes, then you can easily make an argument as to why it is very ethical to do that. In fact, this is what this entire article is about. However, from the mosquito’s point of view, the active efforts of human beings to make mosquitoes extinct as quickly as possible can easily be seen as one of the most, if not the most egregious and unethical acts any living creature has ever put forth against them.
We can turn the tables here and the ethics of this transaction do not change. If mosquitoes decided tomorrow that they have had enough of our insect repellent, our mosquito nets, and our illuminating bug zappers and that human beings needed to be exterminated due to us being the biggest threat to their health, wellbeing, and prosperity, then this would be highly ethical behavior for the mosquitoes in favor of such a genocide. They could argue that people murder millions upon millions of spiders every year with the soles of their shoes and commit mass genocide on entire colonies of ants on a daily basis without a scintilla of remorse. With this in mind, it seems as though it would be in the best interest of almost any bug in existence to exterminate humans as fast as they possibly could.
Now for us humans, this would obviously be a problem that we would deem to be highly unethical behavior from our point of view. Although, realizing that we would almost never attribute morality to animals that have such primitive nervous systems, I hope you can at least humor me for the sake of making this hypothetical work.
Here’s another analogy: If we were to one day develop a superhuman A.I. that eventually decided it no longer needed to be bothered by the vacuous, emotional apes that created it, and wanted to wipe all humans off the face of the Earth, then the robots who carried out this “atrocity” would not be inherently evil or nefarious just as we aren’t evil when we kill thousands of ants within minutes all because their ant pile made our yard less pretty. This is especially the case when we realize that the intelligence of a superhuman A.I. juxtaposed to the most brilliant person alive today would be akin to comparing the intelligence of that very same human to the intelligence of an ant or a mosquito.
In conclusion, the death and pure suffering that mosquitoes have inflicted upon us since the dawn of humanity needs to come to a stop. To pretend that we value all living things equally is to pretend that all living things provide equal benefit to our society and to our ecosystem. Simply put, the sooner we are to take action on this front, the sooner we are to prevent millions upon millions of men, women, and children worldwide from enduring unnecessary agonizing deaths.