Few animals on Earth evoke the antipathy that mosquitoes do. Their itchy, irritating bites and nearly ubiquitous presence can ruin a moment at the backyard. They have an uncanny ability to sense our murderous intentions, taking flight and disappearing milliseconds before a fatal swat. And in our bedrooms, the persistent, whiny hum of their buzzing wings can wake the soundest of sleepers.
Beyond the nuisance factor, mosquitoes are carriers, or vectors, for some of humanity’s most deadly illnesses, and they are public enemy number one in the fight against global infectious disease. Mosquito-borne diseases cause millions of deaths worldwide every year with a disproportionate effect on children and the elderly in developing countries.
When you think of the most deadly animal on the planet, you probably think of snakes, lions, crocodiles or even bears. Well, as deadly as these animals seem,they do not kill as many humans as the tiny mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes don’t kill humans directly but are vectors for deadly diseases. Some mosquito-borne diseases include malaria, yellow fever, Chikugunya fever and Zika virus.
The majority of mosquito-related deaths are due to malaria. According to the World Health Organisation, in 2015 alone, therewere about 214 million new cases of malaria with more than 400,000 deaths worldwide.
In total, mosquitoes killed more than 700,000 people globally last year. Compare this to about 94,000 deaths from snakes, about 3,000 deaths from scorpions and about 1,000 deaths from crocodiles.
There are more than 2,500 species of mosquitoes and they can be found in all parts of the world except Antarctica.