Sunday, August 20, 2023

PBS Eons on mosquito evolution for World Mosquito Day

Happy World Mosquito Day! I telegraphed what I am doing today at the end of Vox explains 'What we get wrong about saving the bees' for World Honey Bee Day: "Like Vox did for bees, PBS Eons did for mosquitos, uploading a video this week, just in time for World Mosquito Day. Again, perfect timing." Without any further ado, here's PBS Eons telling its viewers We Helped Make Mosquitoes A Problem, which the channel uploaded on August 15, 2023.

Around 6,000 years ago, in the Sahel region of Africa, a lone female mosquito buzzed through the lush, green savannah. She couldn’t know it, but the planet itself was about to change in ways that would see her descendants evolve to live very different lives. A sudden ecological shift would force them to go from living in forests and feeding on a range of animals to specializing on just one single species: us.
As Michelle Barboza-Ramirez pointed out, this story is an example of everything is connected to everything else, one of Commoner's Laws. This includes us, mosquitos, and climate change, this time caused by natural cycles instead of human pollution.

The story of Aedes aegypti aegypti may be the earliest instance of mosquitos evolving to specialize on humans, but it's not the last. PBS Eons told that story in The London underground has its own type of mosquito.

These underground mosquitos are coming for you

This is literally a textbook example of evolution, as one of the textbooks I used for my biology classes told this story. That's where I first read about it nearly 20 years ago.

Speaking of subway lines, this is where I get off. I have to grade more exams and papers to pass back to my students for the last meeting of my classes tomorrow and Tuesday. Stay tuned for another short video post tomorrow.


  1. It's an interesting story of humans in action, but the interpretation that the role of agriculture makes the mosquito problem partly "our fault" seems perverse. The rise of agriculture had all kinds of effects, almost all of them not intended or even anticipated by the people who began the process. Given human intelligence, not inventing agriculture was never really an option. And it did set us on the road to developing technological civilization -- which is now on the verge of enabling us to eradicate mosquitoes entirely.

    1. That's two years in a row that my World Mosquito Day posts have prompted you to respond here and link to the entry at your blog. In both cases, your comments were right on target. Also, thanks for the link and welcome to your readers who came here!