If you hang around with animal rights activists for long enough, you may notice that you never see a placard that says “Save the Mosquito!” While conservationists rush to protect iconic animals such as pandas, orangutans and tigers so that their children can continue to enjoy ‘The Jungle Book’ in it’s proper context, it seems that no one is looking out for the mosquito. Aren’t they just as in need?
Well the truth is that they aren’t. Currently the mosquito population is doing pretty well. Almost too well, in fact. As the global climate is getting warmer, threatening the existence of thousands of species (including our own), mosquitoes are actually benefiting from it. Increasing average temperatures has seen a surge of previously tropical-bound mosquitoes migrating to Northern regions of the world. With them they have brought diseases, and a few infections of mosquito-bound chikunguna and dengre have occurred in both France and Italy, though these were not extreme cases. It has also been predicted that regions such as South-East Asia, South America and parts of Africa will see a resurgence of malaria endemics due to the expansion of areas suitable for transmitting the disease.
Millions of years ago the most dominant creatures on Earth were the dinosaurs. After they faced mass extinction, came the age of mammals, which gradually filtered into specifically humans, our current era. Perhaps in due time it will be the insects’ turn. While as of yet there are no existing insects capable of building tools or critical thinking, they do have advantages over us in a number of ways:
- As mentioned above, they are carriers of deadly incurable diseases.
- They are capable of rapidly devouring our crops and food supplies. Farmers throughout the world fight a losing battle against locust plagues.
- We are severely outnumbered. While there are 7 billion humans, it is estimated that there are 200 million insects for every living person, accounting for a total of 1,400,000,000,000,000,000 insects, many of which are species still unknown to science.
- Insects can become immune to our methods of killing them. Pesticide resistance is a pretty common genetic inheritance of many species. Cockroaches have long been able to survive when large amounts of pressure are applied to them, which is a evolutionary trait that might be adapted by other species.
- They are smaller and therefore more agile and fast. Though gradually through evolution they may grow larger.
- A large number of humans are frightened by insects. The most common fear is of wasps, who also have a natural weapon in the form of a stinger.
- A lot of them can fly. Obvious advantage.
So perhaps in thousands of years, the few surviving humans will live underground, cowering from the fog of insects that swarms the air above the surface. I don’t condone animal cruelty in general, but next time you swat a mosquito, consider that you’re making a small step towards preventing a future inter-species war.