After humans, which animal causes the most human fatalities?
And the answer: mosquitoes.
Per the WHO, mosquitoes kill a million people every year. Most of these deaths are caused by malaria, West Nile virus, and dengue fever.
Due to the threat that mosquitoes pose, researchers have gotten creative in figuring out ways to trap and kill these pesky creatures. From examining the sound which attracts mosquitoes, to using lasers, to even attacking the internal organs of the insect, the need to eradicate the spread of blood-related disease has risen to the top of scientists efforts in recent years.
Interestingly, only female mosquitoes bite. This is due to the fact that the protein and other compounds in blood offer a snack that is essential to help produce and develop their eggs. Mosquitoes are also attracted to carbon dioxide, which is one of the main ways in which they are able locate their next meal. The insects use a special organ called a maxillary palp to follow the smell of CO2 released from our breath. Once the culprit is located, mosquitoes can drink up to 3 times their weight in blood. Talk about biting off more than you can chew!
Fortunately, though, mosquitoes only live for around two months, and can only reach speeds of around 1-1.5 miles per hour. These constraints make them easy to catch and kill, but unfortunately for humans, we are significantly outnumbered. According to the American Mosquito Control Association, there are over 3,000 different species of mosquitoes throughout the world, and over 110 trillion in total. Clearly, we have our work cut out for us!
Learn more about the mosquito here.