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Name: Mary
Status: student
Grade: 6-8
Location: TN
Date: June 2008

Question:
What is the true purpose of the mosquito? Do they help us in any way, or are they just a pest?



Replies:
In terms of science, I suggest you think of life from a different angle. Organisms that can successfully live and reproduce are still around. Those that can't are extinct. The purpose of *all* life is to reproduce (if it weren't, the species would become extinct). Mosquitoes have been successful at avoiding extinction so far. They probably are not too concerned with their usefulness to humans.

Hope this helps,

Burr


Mary,

I know how annoying mosquitoes can be. Right now I can't walk 10 yards into my yard without being attacked by many mosqitoes.

Mosquitoes are part of vast food webs. The females need blood to feed their eggs. Humans make easy prey for mosquitoes because we smell so good to them. Mosquitoes eat from plants. Mosquito eggs are food to crayfish, dragonflies and frogs. Flying mosquitoes are food for frogs, bats and birds, especially purple martins.

So you see mosquitoes are part of a network -- they eat plants, deposit eggs and become food. That is the cycle of life.

Warren Young


In the bigger scheme of things, mosquitoes help keep ecosystems balanced by transmitting diseases. Diseased animals are easier for carnivores to capture and disease keeps the numbers of certain animals from getting too large for the food supply. That seems kind of cold, but that is the way it is.

Of course, if you are getting bitten, get malaria or your flock of animals is dying from disease, mosquitoes are a real pest.

R. Avakian


Mary:

I hope you think carefully about this question. What is the purpose of anything, including people?

To try to answer your question, I don't know of any "help" mosquitoes give people, and some species spread disease to people, making them serious pests. But in the bigger picture, mosquitoes are part of many food chains, they are an important part of the web of life, just like all the millions of other plants and animals.

This quote from Jeffrey A. Lockwood, a scientist who studies grasshoppers, might shed some light on the question:

"And so, in answering the polite and honest question, "What is a grasshopper good for?".... my answer is that a grasshopper isn't good for anything. Its presence is of no significance -- an ultimate zero. Its value is in being a grasshopper, nothing more. The grasshopper just is. And that is enough."

J. Elliott



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