Learning! Who Kills Most?

Quick!  Without looking at the image below (don't do it!) guess what creature you think kills the most humans per year?  Sharks?  Humans?  Scary spiders?  Aliens?  NOPE.  Mosquitos.  Stupid, little, annoying mosquitos and all the diseases they spread.


It's true!  Funnily enough, I came across this graphic about a week after listening to a Radiolab podcast called Kill 'Em All! about how terrible and death-causing mosquitos are.  Then I saw this graphic on It's Okay to be Smart and he also references the Radiolab podcast, making me feel smart for listening to something that a smart person listens to.

Also, I learned some things about mosquitos:

Throughout all of history they have killed the most humans ever.  In fact, about half of the people who have died EVER died because of a mosquito bite-related illness, and most of the people they kill are children.

There is a mosquito factory in Brazil where they are making dude mosquitos that have a tiny genetic component that will cause their babies to die, wiping out entire generations of mosquitos AND putting an end to the mutant mosquitos quickly so the mutation doesn't spread out of control.  As much as I'm against messing with nature, this actually seems like a pretty clever way to do it.  They released these killer mosquitos in regions that have lots of malaria-type deaths and the number of deaths dropped dramatically in one year!

Speaking of messing with nature, generally I think it's a bad idea to, say, genetically engineer mosquitos that will cause their babies to all die.  Everything is connected.  Ecosystems are complicated.  Mother Nature is a complex lady who will bite us if we mess with her.  However, as far as we know, mosquitos are useless on the earth.  They don't pollinate, they don't seem to be necessary for keeping other populations in check, and the populations that feed on them also feed on other bountiful creatures.  There is most likely something we're missing, but right now it looks like maybe we could just kill them all.  Weird.

Listen to Kill 'Em All! here:

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