What is the Importance of Mosquitoes?
The mosquito is a blood-sucking insect that is responsible for the transmission of diseases throughout the animal and human population in the world. There is some importance of mosquitoes in nature as well.
Hence there is not much love between people and mosquitoes can be seen. But, this is not the only purpose of mosquitoes, if that’s what you are thinking. But first, let’s take a look at their general anatomy.
General Anatomy of Mosquitoes
A mosquito belongs to the family of flies called Culicidae. It is a small fragile insect that has 6 legs and two scale-covered wings. Mosquito’s head is furnished with a proboscis that hides and protects the long pierced and sucking mouthparts.
The insects that bite have a complicated life cycle and mosquito is one of them. The young stage is completely aquatic and the adult stage is terrestrial. Once fully developed, the adult female goes back to the water habitat for a short time to lay eggs. But different species possess different breeding habits, host preferences, biting behavior, and flight range.
Generally, a female has a life span of 2-3 weeks but a male’s life span is shorter. When it comes to feeding habits both adult males and females feed on plant fluids and nectar. But only females consume blood because it is a source of protein for egg development. Males do not possess the parts that puncture the skin hence they don’t feed on blood.
There must be some importance of mosquitoes. Right?
Yes indeed! Mosquitoes do have a big effect on Earth. The behavior of all species including humans depends on them. Because they are in abundance, they are a food source for aquatic animals as well as terrestrial. Mosquito is also a motivator in the advancement of defense mechanisms.
Which animals would be affected?
If mosquitoes were annihilated from the earth, the diet of hundreds of species of fish would have changed. This could be a challenge for the predators who depend on the mosquitoes for their food, for example, the mosquitofish.
Richard Merritt, aquatic entomologist warns that some species of fish would extinct, if mosquitoes were wiped from the earth. The majority of species would not starve, and some will flourish if mosquitoes disappeared.
Some Points Proving the Importance of Mosquitoes in Nature
The debate still goes on… majority of scientists believe that mosquitoes are more hazardous than they have value. The most asked question is what is the purpose of mosquitoes in the ecosystem? What is the importance of mosquitoes in nature? But some believe that the purpose of mosquitoes in nature is considerable.
They serve as food for many animals, helps the plants to thrive, etc. The very last thing that scientists are trying to do is using mosquitoes for possible medical treatments. So, does this mean that there is some medical importance of mosquitoes?
Let’s see the Importance of Mosquitoes in Nature and other Processes.
The Food Web
Larvae being aquatic insects play a vital role in the aquatic food chain. In “The Handy Bug Answer Book” by Dr. Gilbert Waldbauer, mosquitoes act as filter feeders that consume tiny organic particles such as unicellular algae from the water.
After consuming algae, it converts them into the tissues of their own bodies and is eaten by fish. The larva is basically a super nutritious food for fish and other marine animals.
Other mosquito species and bugs feed on the corpse of insects that drown in water but the mosquito larvae feed on squander elements such as algae. With such consumption, they produce nitrogen which helps the plants to thrive.
Therefore, the extermination of mosquitoes will affect plant growth in those areas. The role of a mosquito does not end at the larval stage, being at the bottom of the food chain. As adults, mosquitoes serve as power-packed nutritious food for spiders, birds, and bats.
Mosquitoes tend to represent significant biomass of food for animals on the lower levels of the food chain. So, the extinction of mosquitoes, if it is possible, could have unfavorable effects on the ecosystem. But some scientists suggest that the ecosystem could bounce and some other species could take its place.
Acting as Pollinators
The female mosquito is the only ones, who drink blood. The blood fulfills their special need for necessary proteins to lay eggs. But majorly male and female mosquitoes depend on nectar for nutrition and energy.
When the mosquitoes retrieve nectar, they pollinate the plants unknowingly, which helps the plant to thrive. Pollinating the plants helps in preserving the flora.
Especially the aquatic plants, around which the larvae spend their initial stage is important. Because these plants provide cover and shelter to other organisms and animals.
After sharing the importance of mosquitoes in nature, do you think there is any more benefit to having mosquitoes? Well, there is some medical importance of mosquitoes.
Despite being known as a vector for spreading diseases all over the world, there is some amount of medical importance of mosquitoes. Researchers and scientists have some hope for the saliva of mosquitoes. Studies have given hope that the saliva of a mosquito may provide a cure for cardiovascular disease. It is the No. 1 worldwide killer of humans.
One positive implementation is creating anticlotting drugs, such as capillary dilators and clotting inhibitors. The composition of mosquitoes’ saliva is rather simple. It generally contains 20 dominant proteins. Despite a great deal of knowledge of the molecules and their role in bold feeding, researchers and scientists still don’t know about half of the molecules present in the saliva of insects.
Till now the majority of people have thought of mosquitoes as blood-sucking insects. It is a common perception of people that eradicating mosquitoes won’t do any harm or change anything.
But it is the opposite of that. Mosquitoes are surprisingly an integral part of the world’s ecosystem. They are present everywhere, at every life stage, despite being in cities or remote areas.
The food aquatic food chain also depends on them for proper functioning as fishes and organisms depend on them. Similarly, in terrestrial food chain also, birds, lizards, and other animals depend on mosquitoes for the snack. So there is some importance of mosquitoes in nature.