What Would Happen If Mosquitoes Went Extinct?

Have you ever been annoyed by having to swat and clap aimlessly to ward off the biggest (and probably, the most irksome) threat ever posed by a singular winged-creature? Of course you have. Mosquitoes definitely make our lives a wee bit more difficult (and itchy), especially when they have the chance of afflicting you with lethal diseases or causing you to perform some weird dance steps like these…

There are almost 3500 species of mosquitoes on the planet, 200 of which are known to attack humans. Out of these, there are three specific species (Anopheles, Culex and Aedes) that are responsible for transmitting certain dangerous diseases, such as yellow fever and malaria.

Have you ever thought about what would happen if mosquitoes just went extinct?

Mosquitoes’ Role in the Grand Scheme of Things

Because they have been on the planet for millions of years, mosquitoes have carved out a rather vital spot in the ecological cycle and have become an important component of the food chain. There are a number of creatures that feed on mosquitoes. For example, mosquitoes are distinctly abundant in Arctic Tundra region, where migratory birds feed upon them en masse. The extinction of mosquitoes would certainly impact the diets of these birds, which could translate to a significant reduction in the number of birds, diminishing their total population by nearly half.

Some researchers claim that certain fish species would also be impacted by the extinction of mosquitoes, as they would have to make adjustments to their diet, especially those like mosquitofish. Other insects’ (that feed upon mosquitoes) numbers would also reduce if mosquitoes disappeared from our planet, and as a result, the fish that feed upon these insects would suffer too, which would obviously have an impact on the entire food chain.

Extinction? Not So Bad…

However, the good thing about the possible extinction of mosquitoes is that it wouldn’t have any long-term or extreme impacts on the environment. Sure, there will be aftereffects of a sudden extinction of these pesky insects, but those wouldn’t be disastrous by any means. This is because the many different species that feed upon mosquitoes would eventually be able to make adjustments in their diets and continue to sustain their lives.

Willful Eradication of Harmful Species

In fact, scientists have been trying to eradicate mosquitoes using certain innovative methods for a long time. One of these include making certain targeted changes in the genetic code of mosquitoes in such a way that they produce more male offspring than female offspring. This technique involves the use of a particular enzyme that affects the X-chromosomes of mosquitoes during the production of sperm, which would result in the birth of more male offspring. That way, the capacity of certain harmful species of mosquitoes to make larger colonies would be significantly curtailed.

Given all the scientific research and methods that are being tried to tackle the mosquito problem, it seems only logical that there will eventually be a smaller number of harmful species of mosquitoes, as these not only attack other creatures, but also afflict humans with deadly diseases, like malaria and dengue fever.

Furthermore, living in a world free of aimless swatting will be much more comfortable. At least, it will be for me!

  1. Nature.com
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About the Author

Ashish is a Science graduate (Bachelor of Science) from Punjabi University (India). He spends a lot of time watching movies, and an awful lot more time discussing them. He likes Harry Potter and the Avengers, and obsesses over how thoroughly Science dictates every aspect of life… in this universe, at least.

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