Despite its small size, nothing has impacted the world like the mosquito, and it has been around for quite some time.

The oldest known form of the mosquito we know today was found in Canadian amber and is believed to be 79 million years old. Other forms go back much further than that.

Numbering 3,500 species, mosquitoes can be found in dense tropical jungles all the way to the northern Arctic, as mosquito eggs can also tolerate snow and sub-zero temperatures.

No matter how much we hate them, mosquitoes have a purpose, enough that some scientists believe that eradicating mosquitoes completely would have dire consequences for any ecosystem.

Both male and female mosquitoes feed mainly on nectar and juice from plants, so obviously they are important for the pollination and spread of some plant species. I know that all the wildflowers and blueberries I saw on an arctic caribou bow hunt were most likely mosquito pollinated as there were no bees in them. surroundings.

I have also never encountered mosquitoes as large, aggressive and hungry as I have in the Arctic – enough that they pose a health risk (to humans) due to the loss of blood if appropriate precautions were not taken. A caribou in the Arctic can lose an average of 4.4 pounds of blood per year from mosquito hordes, and caribou calves have been known to die from blood loss. And I recently read that climate change is a big help for mosquitoes in the Arctic.

The culprit for all of this is the female mosquito, which needs a blood meal to provide the protein necessary for egg production, and the female’s flexible abdomen can actually fill up to three times her body weight. bleeding.

The female transmits saliva when she bites to stop the blood from clotting while she draws her blood meal, and saliva is what can transmit the disease. The presence of anticoagulant saliva triggers our immune system, which is why mosquito bites itch.

The impact of the mosquito on the world can easily be described as phenomenal, especially when one realizes the ravages of the diseases it has transmitted through the bite of the female in search of the necessary blood meal.

The point is, the mosquito alone has caused more deaths for mankind over time than all the wars and plagues in history combined. Even Attila the Hun, on his quest to conquer the then known world, came to a screeching halt when the mighty mosquito flexed his tiny muscles. When his huge army suffered dramatic losses from mosquito-borne diseases, Attila had to return home and regroup.

(At the start of Michigan’s colonization period, a fort in the Saginaw Valley had to be abandoned due to a majority of soldiers stricken with malaria, which at the time was called “ague”, which affected many people. many early pioneers.)

Any ongoing military action was to be listed in Mosquito as a serious consideration, and this was no more evident than in the Pacific Theater during World War II, where the Allies and the Japanese had to take special measures for the mosquito eradication and disease prevention. because more victims could be caused by mosquitoes than by battle (this was when the insecticide “DDT” was first used effectively on a large scale).

Although mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria are a thing of the past here in America (thanks to DDT, which was banned in the United States in 1972 due to its negative impact on the environment), third countries world continue to experience an onslaught. Millions of people are still affected each year in Africa alone, and DDT is still widely used to control mosquitoes in third world countries.

Being outdoors a lot, I have my share of mosquito bites every year, from spring to fall, despite precautions such as using repellents and wearing appropriate clothing with long sleeves and pants ( avoid dark clothes as they can attract mosquitoes and even black flies).

From experience, I have found that I seem to naturally attract mosquitoes, often more than other people around me. This is not an unusual fact as each person has an individual production of carbon dioxide and various chemicals in their skin that will attract mosquitoes, and in the eyes of a female mosquito I obviously seem to be “first cut” .

I don’t like to douse myself with repellents, but one item I’ve discovered in recent years that works for me is called ThermaCell, which is an insect repellent dispensing device that can even be worn on a belt. (it even comes in “earth” camouflage scents for deer and bear hunters).

I first used a ThermaCell over a dozen spring turkey seasons ago and bragged about it so much that my wife Ginny ran away with it to work in her flower beds, I so had to buy another one. The product was also found to be very comforting while fishing, early bow hunting for deer, hunting in a duck blind near a swamp, or just relaxing on my patio and not having to crush biting insects.

As a resident of Tuscola County, I have always supported the Mosquito Control Program, which the county started in 1997. What amazes me is the fact that very few Michigan counties have implemented implementing mosquito control programs. In my opinion, every effort should be made to control the number of mosquitoes, simply because of the mosquito’s effect on history – past, present and future.

Today’s world has become a much smaller place, allowing different species of mosquitoes and diseases to be more easily transported (including the Southeast Asian tiger mosquito, brought to this country by cargoes. of used tires).

Some examples of mosquito-related illnesses in Michigan today are West Nile virus and East Equine Encephalitis (EEE), which county mosquito control programs are monitoring (not only in efforts to eradication and prevention, but also in the collection of samples for laboratory analysis. as well as).

Mosquito Reduction Program not only clouds roads and yards, but does so weekly at all public outdoor use sites such as baseball stadiums, golf courses, village parks, hiking trails (such as the Rail Trail) and just before the place.

The larvacid is also applied to standing water in roadside ditches, sewage ponds and catch basins. Tire drives are also being held at various locations in Tuscola County.

The mosquito reduction program begins in April and continues through mosquito season until October, when outdoor temperatures drop to 50 degrees.

I have reviewed the Tuscola County Mosquito Control Program facility and have seen its dedicated staff working hard, including in the field, and I can easily attest that the county taxpayers are getting their money’s worth. .

It was very heartwarming to have my yard treated by Mosquito Abatement a few days before having an outdoor family reunion (after the treatment I didn’t need my ThermaCell on my patio or on the dock at the pond for quite a while). I am sure that my horses, dogs and cats also fully appreciated the treatment.

I have found that living in the woods with ponds nearby has its challenges when it comes to mosquitoes, and I really appreciate the services provided by the mosquito control program.

The mosquito plays an important role in the ecosystem, but reducing the number of mosquitoes is a plus for humanity in general. Experts I’ve spoken to admit that a total mosquito eradication would be impractical due to its very tough and durable nature. History, through eons, has shown that the mosquito is the ultimate survivor.

I have come to accept the mosquito as part of nature, despite its annoying buzz and irritating bites. It has been there from the very beginning and will, without a doubt, be there forever.

Email Tom Lounsbury at [email protected]

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