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Mosquitoes eating you up? Eradicate 'em!


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David Schulz
Columnist
By David Schulz
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 8, 2005
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I hate mosquitoes.

I never see them coming until after they've lunched on my plasma, and then afterward I get unsightly red welts to deal with for the next week or so that, by their very existence, compel me to scratch them in the most socially inappropriate of situations.

Even worse, mosquitoes are huge carriers of diseases such as the dreaded West Nile virus, not to mention the perennially threatening malaria, the scarily named dengue fever and many more.

If a mosquito infected with one of these beauties deems you munch-worthy, you might want to enroll in some yoga classes because pretty soon you're going to need to kiss your own butt goodbye.

A whopping 391 Arizonans were infected with West Nile in 2004, according to the Arizona Department of Health services, making it far and away the leader in West Nile virus cases per capita. Furthermore, dengue fever affected 1,177 people in Sonora, Mexico, in 2004, up from 258 in 2002.

There seems to be an easy solution to this problem: eradication.

That's right, I said it. Let's take a page from Metallica and kill 'em all. Wipe them off the face of the earth. Put them in the toilet of death and flush them down to the septic tank known as hell.

Why do we keep them around anyway? Are mosquitoes rich in vitamins? No. Do mosquitoes make nice pets? Definitely not. Would anyone want to watch a TV show starring a talking mosquito? Perhaps, if the mosquito were a crime-solving robot with a hilarious sidekick played by Tony Shalhoub, but probably not.

Naturally some will disagree with this proposed course of action. Chris Freiman, a philosophy graduate student and instructor of an environmental ethics class, thinks that it is only ethically acceptable to eradicate a species if they pose a major threat to human health and well-being.

"It is within our rights (as humans) to take necessary measures to protect ourselves, but we must maintain some kind of natural balance," Freiman said. "All living things are worthy of respect."

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So mosquitoes may not pose a huge threat to human health and well-being. However, they certainly do pose a major threat to human mental health and well-being.

Case in point: About a week and a half ago, a pack of enterprising and apparently starving mosquitoes somehow found their way into my bed while I was asleep and mistook my feet for the all-you-can-eat buffet at Sweet Tomatoes.

I awoke the next morning to find everything below my ankles savagely feasted upon, with no mosquitoes in sight. Those cowardly bloodsuckers gorged themselves on an all-night feast of epic proportions and left me to pay the swollen, inflamed bill.

Did this have to happen? Did I have to be reduced to taking off my shoes and socks in the middle of campus, the ultimate humiliation, to satisfy my unspeakable urge to itch simply because "all living things are worthy of respect"? I think not.

However, regardless of whether or not it is morally permissible to make mosquitoes extinct, we must also examine whether or not this is even possible. To paraphrase that great thinker Jeff Goldblum, we need to be worried about whether or not we could instead of whether or not we should.

Carl Olson, a lecturer and appointed professor in the department of entomology, has an easy answer to both of those questions: no and no.

"Whether bug or Muslim, the government is always trying to eradicate things it doesn't like," he said. "But eradicating mosquitoes is probably not possible. Their population is too big and it covers too large of a geographic area."

"(Furthermore), mosquitoes are part of the interdependent web of life," Olson said. "They are a food source to lots of different animals. If they were eradicated, that could mean disaster to a bunch of different species (and) it's not clear that something would come along to replace them."

Essentially what Olson is saying is that if we eliminate mosquitoes from what he calls the "food web," it might start a chain reaction that could eliminate all of our food sources and make the Earth an apocalyptic kill-zone in which the living would envy the dead.

If it means not having to scratch mosquito bites anymore, I think I can live with that.

David Schultz is a political science

and philosophy senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.



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