I enjoy eating breakfast and dinner in the garden. Nice way to start and end the day, but tonight I was besieged by flies and later mosquitoes. Two pesty species that serve what purpose? I suspect it was a power play by the gods just to remind us who are in charge.
Conservationist John Muir once said “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” Which I get, like if we got rid of all the great white sharks something bad would happen, like the walrus population would run out of dock space in California and start to harass boaters along inland rivers.
Or cause such an influx of surfer dudes to SoCa that beaches everywhere would be completely overrun and trendy community gardens would be demolished to increase the even trendier medicinal pot crop….
but what could possibly happen if all malaria/dengue fever/yellow fever/encephalitis/ filariasis ridden, biting, buzzing into your ears all night mosquitoes were eradicated? Little League would play longer innings and no one would finish homework? There would be so many more BBQs that hot dogs would be on backorder? What?
NPR suggests in a 2008 piece that mosquitoes have a purpose: larvae are food for fish, adults are eaten by birds and, get this, they have protected large tracts of equatorial rainforest that are the last outposts of ferns, butterflies, beetles and ants (I have a problem with ants too). They perform this service by attacking people who tried to settle there, made them ill and drove them out. Oh pleeeze! Obviously tree huggers and bleeding heart liberals.
Kinda weak argument. The Panama Canal still made it through, right, after nearly 30,000 men died from guess what? Yellow fever and Malaria!
The canal by the way is celebrating its 100th anniversary this August! It was truly an engineering marvel and backbreaking work. It is already outdated with larger ships than ever unable to enter. The UK’s Daily Mail did an interesting piece with photos http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-2725696/Happy-birthday-Panama-Canal-Waterway-celebrates-100-years-despite-months-delays-massive-expansion-plans.html
And why are there so many more mosquitoes than fish to eat them? Doesn’t this surplus cause an ecological imbalance? 20 mosquitos to each human? There’s probably a scientific formula for that.
At any rate, what Muir said is true. When I went to research mosquitoes I was led to a website http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043265/trivia about the production of African Queen, a classic film with Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn directed by legendary John Huston.
Bogart’s young wife Lauren Becall went along for the trip—it probably sounded romantic as they were packing. Becall later said, “We decided first night out that it was advisable not to ask what we were eating, we didn’t want to know.”
Production was hellacious (much like this evening’s dinner) The actors and crew suffered just about every illness and hardship possible (a poisonous black mamba snake in the loo anyone?) filming in the remote and primitive Belgian Congo in 1951!
Bogey & Huston found their own solution to ward off pests and illness “by essentially living on imported Scotch. Bogart later said, “All I ate was baked beans, canned asparagus, and Scotch whisky. Whenever a fly bit Huston or me, it dropped dead.”
Further proof that mosquitoes are truly despised as horrid creatures everywhere and drive even manly men of Old Hollywood to drastic measures (canned asparagus?), but Muir was right: everything, even mosquitoes, is hitched to interesting stories. Or something like that.