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Pasha 121: Why we need mosquitoes

The dreaded mosquito is an insect with a bad reputation. They bite, keep you up at night and spread deadly diseases like dengue and malaria. There are many calls for their eradication. But they are a diverse group. Only a small fraction of the 3,000 species of mosquitoes feed on humans. An even smaller fraction of those transmit diseases.

They are an important part of many ecosystems. Some feed on nectar and pollinate plants; some feed on other mosquitoes. Some form part of the diets of fish and frogs. Controlling mosquitoes should be carefully targeted to minimise damage to ecosystems.

In today’s episode of Pasha, we hear about an approach that involves working with mosquitoes against the malaria parasite. Instead of killing mosquitoes, scientists are focusing on how they can block disease transmission. Our guest, Jeremy Herren, a scientist at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, discusses shifts in mosquito populations. One worrying development is the spread of a mosquito species in East Africa that prefers urban environments.

“Close-up of a mosquito sucking blood.” By Darkdiamond67 found on Shutterstock

Music: “Happy African Village” by John Bartmann, found on licensed under CC0 1.

“Free Music Background Loop 001” by Slaking_97, found on Free Sound licensed under under a Attribution License.

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