Do mosquitoes provide any UNIQUE good to the planet?

Apparently not, according to a few articles I’ve been perusing, like this excellent and thoughtful one.

The big problem seems to be that we could not eradicate all of them without doing immense and irreparable harm to other species that DO provide unique benefits.

And there’s also this:

Keep human populations lower.

Actually that was mentioned in one of the articles.

Some species (i.e. of fish) would be greatly harmed or driven into extinction if mosquitoes were completely eradicated.

But I doubt we’ll be seeing such capability any time soon. Even with the trial GM Aedes egyptii mosquito release, an 82% reduction in the local population was achieved, which leaves lots of the little mothers still flying around.

What I find bizarre is the worry about mosquitoes supposedly threatened with extinction and horrific ecologic consequences to ensue, all because GM mosquitoes are proposed as an adjunct to mosquito control in Brazil. People are unaware or “forget” that Brazil eradicated A. egyptii years ago through “natural” means (i.e. pesticides) and nothing of environmental significance apparently happened (this species is not native to Brazil). Let biotechnology come into the picture and we are suddenly “tampering” with Mother Nature.

I would like to see a debate about eradication of yellow jackets, which I personally find to be aggressive, useless creatures suitable for extinction.

(The Republican answer) They support/are responsible for the market for the million dollar insect repellent industry :wink:

I had a small pond at home maybe 400 gallons at the most, I ran a net all along the pond one time to see how much mosquito larvae I could pick up. With very little effort I was able to scoop up at least 1/2 pound. I would think they are extremely important to a lot of species directly and indirectly.

I swear if some of you people were alive during the plague you’d argue against killing off the fleas.

What I read was that mosquitoes are indeed food for many creatures, but they aren’t the EXCLUSIVE food of anyone. IOW mosquitoes aren’t 100% of anyone’s diet, such that a species would die off if there were no mosquitoes. If they weren’t around, the creatures who eat them now would just eat other stuff.

I’ve heard that we need bats because they keep mosquitos under control. Kill them all and we don’t need bats anymore.

I read that bats eat mostly moths.
Some people are so damn clueless about nature ! Bats do more than eat bugs they play a big role in pollination too !

I wouldn’t be surprised if they are close to useless but there are few things that have no benefits whatsoever. They are really good at transmitting deadly diseases from small blood samples but I would bet that probably isn’t negative all the time. It is pure speculation but very small blood transfusions can also be a way to foster cross-species immunity to those same pathogens and others as long as they remain at sub-lethal levels.

For example, something like cowpox can greatly increase immunity for the vastly more dangerous smallpox. Farm kids might get bitten by a mosquito that had recently gorged on an infected cow and that could confer some immunity. Farm kids really did get smallpox at lower levels than others and I don’t know if mosquitoes had any role in that but that is the basic idea.

WHAT!?! I’ve been cutting them slack for years because of the mosquito thing. That ends, like, yesterday!

Here’s what I’m missing in all these discussions:

There are a zillion species of mosquitos. Insect-killing pesticides are a problem because they tend to kill all kinds of insects, from mosquitos to ants to houseflies to honeybees. Or, if you could develop a pesticide that was very mosquito-specific, it might be very hard to restrict it to killing only these two species that carry dengue/malaria/chik-unspellable/zika. And furthermore, they’d develop resistance quickly enough, just like insects have always done.


There’s all this talk of GM mosquitos or irradiated mosquitos, where they raise a swarm of defective males and release them. What are the problems with this? These techniques would be highly specific to just those two species targeted, not even attacking all the other species of mosquitos. And, as far as I can picture, this isn’t something that they bugs will develop an immunity to.

If we can exterminate just these two species, how ecologically bad could that be? There are plenty of other species of mosquitos for the bats to eat.

Not that mosquitoes are a particularly relevant part of their diet anyway.

Do you really think
“Not that humans have found” = “Does not exist”?

This is another of the “conceits humans have of their knowledge”.

We’ll never know if the Passenger Pigeon had a unique ecological niche.

Really want to go double-or-nothing on more species?

In Brazil, Aedes aegypti is an introduced species. I’d have no qualms about eradicating them there. Or far that matter, anywhere but Africa and possibly even there. Ditto for the tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), except that’s native to SE Asia. Get rid of those and there’s no more vector for several diseases: zika, dengue, yellow fever, and chickungunya.

If you really don’t want to totally exterminate them, we could probably keep a captive breeding population for them. Just keep them out of the wild.

I have no problems with the GM solution. Much better than spreading organophosphates everywhere indiscriminately. Those not only kill all kinds of insects, but also can cause neural development problems in children.

We have lots of knowledge. Lots. Specially about things that are in pretty much plain sight, like the niche insects occupy.

There’s nothing really magical about ecology. It’s not a fine tuned machine made by a creator or some nonsense like that. We do constant damage to the environment all the time. This would be, however, something done with an actual purpose and with a modicum of risk analysis-

Dumb question, but does any species provide any unique good to the planet? Various species come and go and the ecosystem adapts.