Mosquitoes: Summer Pest or Predator?
Mosquitoes are a familiar nuisance in nearly every part of the country, but they can be much more than a backyard annoyance. A recent campaign led by Bill Gates has brought the deadly side of mosquitoes to light, and there may be some facts that you do not know about these animals. While many people fear animals like sharks and bears, the most fatal animal on earth is actually this tiny insect that leaves behind its characteristically irritating bite.
Mosquito deaths worldwide
More than 2,500 species of mosquitoes can be found around the world, and they are responsible for a staggering number of deaths. While most of the outbreaks caused by mosquitoes are in less developed regions of the world, any population may be affected by deadly bites.
Malaria—the most widely known disease carried by mosquitoes—kills 600,000 people worldwide each year, and it’s not even the only deadly disease that these insects carry. To put that number in perspective, only ten deaths each year are caused by shark attacks.
American mosquito outbreaks
West Nile Virus (WNV) is one of the most recent threats posed by mosquitoes, with significant outbreaks reported in North America in 2003-4. In 2010, 30,491 cases of WNV had been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and over 1,100 of these were fatal. Nearly 13,000 presented severe complications such as meningitis.
One thing that all mosquitoes have in common is their need for water. Mosquitoes flock to standing water sources like open wells, ponds, and pools. Third world nations tend to have more mosquito infestations because they have stagnant water sources that attract the insects. To eliminate mosquitoes from your backyard when the weather warms up, make sure that they have no areas to breed such as open rainwater barrels or non-chlorinated swimming pools.
Since you will not be able to distinguish disease-carrying mosquitoes by sight, you should take preventive measures to keep all mosquitoes away. Citronella candles and bug-proof skin sprays can help repel mosquitoes when you head outside for your favorite summer activities.
Do you have more bug-control tips? Share them with us in the comments section below.