Mosquitos: "the eco-system doesn't need them"

I am listening to NPR, The Takeaway. A scientist from the US Navy just said the claim listed in the OP Title. This is coming within the context of a piece on the Zika virus and whether it makes sense to eradicate mosquitos as part of combatting Zika, and many other skeeter-born viruses.

This scientist, Joseph Conlon, US Navy entymologist (retired) said we should look at eradicating them via introducing genetic issues that propagate and lead to their demise.

Humans have a way of missing unforeseen consequences - the Unknown Unknowns, if you will. I imagine things Humans might miss that can play out in this type of scenario…should we be looking to eradicate disease-carrying insects like this?

If any Doper scientists, with emphasis on eco-stuff and entymology, discuss this? Is it common for certain pest insect to be considered eliminate-able?

From here.

I’m no scientist, but I think we could do without them. Nasty buzzin’ bastards!

Entomologist/scientist here.

My creds - I work on GM mosquitoes (18 years experience) and mosquito-borne pathogens (12 years experience), and am getting ready to make the big jump into Zika. Would have before now, but until a few months ago no one really cared about Zika. If there wasn’t a potential link to newborn microcephaly no one would care about it now.

Eradication has been tried before. Its is very difficult. The GM mosquito technique currently being used is the RIDL strategy. Here’s a post of mine from about a year ago on the details of this:

GM Mosquitoes: What say you?

I think that post goes into the what can go wrong. Pretty much nothing that will make the situation worse, and if gone right plenty of things that will make it better.

Elimination by release of sterile insects can work (Sterile Insect Technique Successes) but its difficult.

Thanks mozchron! I hadn’t seen that. I will dig in.

Okay, my mind is blown. On NPR right now, they are interviewing Oxitech’s CEO, your colleague mentioned in your linked thread. Fascinating! It is about Zika and what they are doing in Brazil.

And they are discussing the concerns raised in my OP; a scientist from UC Irvine basically said what you said in your linked thread. Hmm - were you just on NPR? :wink:

Nope :slight_smile: Not today (maybe this week, been giving interviews all over the place).

Don’t have access right now, but I bet UCI scientist was Tony James. Good colleague and friend.

The definitive thread on the subject

That’s hilarious - Wildest Bill was quite the Doper, eh?

mozchron - you’ll have to let us know when you’re on!! This being an anonymous messageboard and all :wink:

Was on TV today…

Are their many or any birds, bats, frogs etc that only eat the type of mosquito (Aedes aegypti) that carries the virus? There are lots of mosquito types. Most don’t Zika spread dengue fever, chikungunya, and yellow fever viruses like Aedes aegypti does.

Can we just allow DDT usage again?

This just about sums up my feelings on the subject.

This is a meme that I wish would go away. DDT is allowed for public health use. DDT has ALWAYS been allowed for public health use. Public health use of DDT was never included in the ban.

Problem is, when DDT is used for public health, people have a tendency to divert it for agricultural use. So countries often ban it. But that is a problem with people. Not with DDT.

Perhaps I have it wrong, but I recall something about the US making it difficult for use in other countries. I understand it is used for public health use in the US but claims have been made that we’ve allowed many deaths from mosquito borne disease overseas by making it difficult to use in other countries. Please let me know if that’s not true. Now considering what we’re up against here, why wouldn’t we be putting it to much greater use short term here and abroad? Are past accumulations still affecting the ecosystem?

It’s my understanding that mosquitos are the deadliest animals on earth and make plague rats look tame by comparison. Wiping them out should be priority one for humanity.

It’s all in the Wiki link. It was last used for public health in the US in the 1970’s. its still used overseas. Mosquito resistance is a big reason why its not more widely used (in addition to diversion to Ag).

Evidence for vertebrate toxicity is way overrated. (Anecdotally) I was a student of J. Gordon Edwards; I saw him eat straight DDT right out of the can on numerous occasions. Doc in his 70’s was in better shape than I was in my 20’s. Fought off a mother grizzly bear when he was younger (true story!). Died in his mid-80s of a heart attack while hiking in Glacier National Park.

Mosquitoes are a pollinator. Eliminating them would not be a total disaster for flowering plants, but according to this article, orchids would suffer.

I think the biggest Unknown Unknown would end-up being mosquitoes as a food source for other fauna we are more appreciative of.

Well, to be fair, we probably should tackle the Justin Beiber Menace first.

Hey, kill’em. We got along without the dodo bird. We got along without the passenger pigeon. We can probably get along without any kind of bird that has a diet that’s exclusively mosquitoes. Kill them all.

Come to that, we could probably find some workaround for the orchids.