When we think of dangerous animals, the first beasts that pop into our heads are often tigers, sharks and even tiger sharks! However, in reality, these majestic creatures do not top the list of the most dangerous animals in the world. That credit is given to the most vile and sniveling creature on the planet – the mosquito.
Yes, you read that right. The endlessly irritating mosquito is actually the deadliest creature in the world. Don’t be fooled by its small size or its unobtrusive Spanish name, which means ‘small fly’.
Usually, for animals to be dangerous, it has to be large and scary like a hippopotamus, or tiny and venomous like a black widow spider. Another strategy for small creatures to become incredibly dangerous is by hunting in packs, such as driver ants, which attack animals up to 1000 times the size of an individual ant! The mosquito scoffs at such flashy tactics, because they have a much more formidable weapon at hand – diseases.
They Are Everywhere!
Mosquitoes are not just puny bloodsuckers that can leave your skin itchy for hours or days. The effects of a mere mosquito bite can turn out to be extremely devastating in some cases. For several disease-causing viruses and parasites, the mosquito is their favorite partner in crime. If a female mosquito sucks on an animal riddled with a disease, that mosquito can then easily transmit the virus to another unassuming victim without ever getting infected.
This is what makes the mosquito so very dangerous. Sure, it’s not an apex predator that can swallow humans whole, but even an apex predator can be brought to its knees by a simple viral infection. Not mosquitoes, though. They persist through everything! No matter how much you suffocate yourself with bug spray or swing around an electric bat like a battle axe, you’ll never be able to destroy the mosquito army. There are also more than 2500 species of these deadly beasts! During peak breeding season, mosquitoes have a population greater than any other animal except ants. Even nature can’t destroy these little buggers. In fact, we’ve found a 79-million-year-old mosquito trapped in amber from the time of the dinosaurs!
Although mosquitoes are found in the largest abundance in tropical, humid areas around the equator, that doesn’t mean that temperate and dry areas are exempt from this vice. Mosquitoes are adept at surviving even the cold temperatures of Canada! They have occupied and terrorized every continent in the world, except Antarctica and a few islands here and there, mostly in polar and sub-polar climates. One of those islands is Iceland, a land that is blissfully unaware of the excruciating nuisance of mosquitoes.
Vector for Diseases
As I mentioned before, the mosquito is a vector for many viruses and parasites that kill a substantial portion of the human population every year. Also, humans are not the only casualties of the mosquito. This creature can attack every living vertebrate, all while haughtily displaying its ability to transfer diseases to any of them. While a small number of species of mosquitoes are harmless, many become carriers for diseases such as chikungunya, yellow fever, West Nile virus, dengue fever, filariasis, elephantiasis, Zika virus and most notably, malaria.
Just for comparison, let’s see the death rates of other supposedly ‘deadly’ animals. Great White sharks, the inspiration for many shoddily made horror films, kill around a dozen people each year. On the other hand, the notoriously dangerous hippo kills about 500 people per annum. The most aggressive species of crocodile, the saltwater crocodile, is the cause of roughly 800 deaths each year.
The mosquito scoffs at such meager records.
It has been estimated that mosquitoes infect around 700 million people with a disease each year! That is a little less than 1/10th of the world’s population! However, most of these cases are either not fatal and/or the afflicted person receives medical attention in time. Nevertheless, mosquitoes still manage to be the sole reason for around 2 to 3 million deaths every year.
That is 50,000 times more death and destruction than the much feared Great White Shark. Makes you wonder why there are so many shark films, but none that address the true antagonist of reality – the vicious mosquito!
- Diseases Transmitted by Mosquitoes – National Pesticide Information Center- Oregon State University
- Humans are the deadliest creature – but one – The Open University
- Which Animal Kills The Most Humans? – The Telegraph
- How Stuff Works