Dear Science: I seem to be a total mosquito magnet, and nothing I try keeps the biters at bay. With serious illnesses like Zika to worry about, that has me wondering why we don’t just get rid of the pests once and for all. What good do mosquitoes do?
Answer: Mosquitoes are our most deadly adversaries in the animal kingdom. While the “factoid” that floats around about malaria causing “half of all human deaths” throughout history is pretty silly, it’s true that we have the insects to thank for some devastating diseases.Over 400,000 people were killed by malaria alone in 2015 – a death toll that until recently was nearly doubled. Warming climates and increased global travel have helped previously obscure viruses like Zika and chikungunya gain footholds across the globe. And even if you never face a life-threatening disease because of a mosquito bite, swelling and itching is hardly a pleasant experience.
So why don’t we just zap them? Unfortunately, you shouldn’t expect to read about the total eradication of mosquitoes anytime soon.