You might be wondering why do mosquitoes exist, moreover, mosquitoes are nuisances to humans. Surprisingly, mosquitoes have their role to play in the ecosystem apart from being a nuisance to us.
Don’t skip reading this post if you are always asking yourself why do mosquitoes exist. This article will reveal to you why mosquitoes exist.
You will get to know the purpose of their existence just by reading through this article. Read on to know more. But before you continue, do you know what mosquitoes are?
What are Mosquitoes?
The word “mosquito” refers to any member of the family Culicidae, which includes almost 3,600 different species of tiny insects (from the Latin culex meaning “gnat”).
In Spanish and Portuguese, the word “mosquito” means “small fly” (from the stem Mosca and the ending -ito).
The mosquito’s body is made up of several thin segments; it has wings; it has halteres; it has three pairs of long, hair-like legs; and its mouthparts are long and slender.
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Evolutionary History and the Fossil Record
Why do mosquitoes exist? Mosquitoes preserved in amber from the Late Cretaceous period are the earliest examples of the species.
There are currently three known species of mosquitoes that lived during the Cretaceous period.
Two of these, Burmaculex antiques and Priscoculex Germanicus, were discovered in Myanmar’s amber, which dates back to the early Cenomanian period of the Late Cretaceous, some 99 million years ago.
Amber found in Alberta, Canada, dates to the Campanian period of the Late Cretaceous, some 79 million years ago, and contains fossils of a tiny insect called Paleoculicis minutes.
Priscoculex Germanicus belongs unquestionably to the Anophelinae, one of the two subfamilies of mosquitoes together with Culicidae, indicating that the split between these two subfamilies occurred more than 99 million years ago.
Molecular clocks place the divergence between both the two subfamilies towards the end of the Cretaceous period, roughly 66 million years after the break occurred in the Early Jurassic (197.5 million years ago).
Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes are evolving into distinct molecular forms, M(opti) and S(Savanah). As a result, several insecticides that were effective against the M form are now ineffective against the S form.
The Culicidae family has more than 3,500 known species. Approximately 43 different genera are found among two main subfamilies.
As new species are discovered and DNA research forces a reorganization of the family’s taxonomy, these estimates are likely to fluctuate over time.
Following is a list of the genera that make up the two most prominent subfamilies, Anophelinae and Culicidae.
The divergence is highly relevant in practice because the two subfamilies play diverse roles as vectors for various disease groups.
In general, Culicine species (although not always in the genus Culex) are the vectors of arboviral diseases like yellow fever and dengue fever.
Some are known to spread several types of avian malaria, but whether or not they ever spread to humans is unclear.
Numerous species in the family Simuliidae are indeed vectors for various filarial diseases.
Why do Mosquitoes Exist?
Mosquitoes may seem useless and merely annoying to people, yet they provide important ecological functions. So, why do mosquitoes exist?
Mosquitoes exist as some kinds of species play a crucial role in pollination, and their bodies provide an essential supply of biomass for the food chain as a whole. Mosquitoes are eaten by fish as larvae and by birds, bats, and frogs as adults.
Yvonne-Marie Linton, head of research at the Walter Reed Biosystematics Unit, which manages the Smithsonian’s U.S. National Mosquito Collection, argues mosquitoes are unfairly maligned.
Although there are more than 3,500 different species of mosquitoes, only about 400 are capable of biting humans and thereby spreading diseases like malaria and West Nile virus.
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Is Mosquito Existence Beneficial?
Incredibly, mosquitoes play a crucial role in pollination. Flower nectar, not human blood, is mosquitoes’ main source of nutrition.
Mosquitoes, much like bees and butterflies, spread pollen from flower to bloom as they sip nectar, thereby allowing plants to create seeds and continue the cycle of life.
The female mosquito only needs a blood meal for protein when she is ready to lay her eggs. Males consume just nectar from flowers and never bite.
Mosquitoes play an important role in the pollination of the blunt-leaf orchid. A picture found on Wikimedia Commons.
In addition to their role in pollination, mosquitoes are an integral part of the food web, as both the winged adult and aquatic larval forms are consumed by a wide variety of animals, from dragonflies and turtles to bats and birds, including hummingbirds, which feed almost exclusively on small flying insects and spiders
Mosquitoes may be a nuisance to humans, but they serve an important ecological function, just like every other species.
The good news is that just a minority of plant species rely only on mosquitoes for pollination, but there are a few orchids in the wild that rely on them.
In a similar vein, there aren’t many—if any—animals that solely eat insects.
How Long Have Mosquitoes Existed On Earth?
It is estimated that these insects have been around for between 100 and 200 million years.
The amber has conserved many mosquito species, enabling scientists to learn about their ancient lives. Just said, they can take a lot of abuse and keep on ticking.
Can You Imagine a World Without Mosquitoes?
There would undoubtedly be substantial repercussions for the ecology as a whole if mosquitoes suddenly disappeared.
Many species would have to rapidly alter their diets. However, the likelihood of global eradication of mosquitoes is low.
If mosquitoes were to suddenly disappear, there would likely be a period of environmental shock followed by rapid adaptation.
That is to say, when an extinction happens slowly, other kinds of life can adapt and continue.
Can Mosquito Existence Be Eco-friendly?
Even though mosquitoes serve a useful role, you should not become best friends with them. So, why do mosquitoes exist?
Mosquitoes may be managed in the yard so that you can enjoy your outdoor space without being bothered by bites or the spread of disease.
By eliminating breeding grounds, you can reduce mosquito populations (e.g., standing water).
Why do Researchers and Exterminators Work So Hard to Get Rid of Mosquitoes?
Why do some people wish to exterminate mosquitoes? To put it simply, they hope to lessen the population of dangerous mosquito species.
Mosquitoes come in over 400 different kinds, and many of them spread deadly diseases like dengue and malaria.
Because of this, scientists around the world are employing biotechnology and other forms of suppression to reduce the population of disease-carrying mosquitoes like Aedes aegypti.