Interesting But Deadly: Mosquitoes in Human History and Mythology
There is no question about the fact that mosquitoes are dangerous, but it is also hard to deny that they are fascinating. It is astounding how much damage a creature so small can cause. This is not to say that you should not try to keep mosquitoes as far away from you as possible, however. But from a distance, it is interesting to look at the way mosquitoes have played major roles in transforming important events that constitute human history and myths.
While it is said that the modern form of human beings came into existence around 200,000 years ago, it is true that mosquitoes have been around far longer than any of our ancestors were there on earth. Based on several research studies and findings, mosquitoes must have been buzzing around at the same time when dinosaurs dominated the planet, around 79 million years ago to be exact. While the mighty dinosaurs faced extinction, the fascinating truth remains that mosquitoes are still hanging around, even after all the millions of years that have passed since then.
The question of how mosquitoes came into existence does not have a clear answer. But like many things in life, there are theories that human beings have propagated in order to come up with a suitable explanation. Since they have caused death like nothing else in the world, mosquitoes are considered evil by many cultures. There is a myth in Siberia that mosquitoes were borne out of the ashes of a man-eating giant that wished for nothing but harm for humanity. Stories closely similar to this one have existed in the mythology of many cultures around the world, such as in that of Yakuts, Nanais, Tatars and so on.
The myth that mosquitoes are vampires in disguise is also pretty popular. It could also be true that the whole concept of vampires was developed from the living and feeding habits of mosquitoes. In an Indian state called Jharkhand, there is even a section of people who took to worshipping a mosquito idol so as to be free of the diseases they continued to spread in their hometown.
Mosquitoes have been almost easily killing off large chunks of the human population since time immemorial. In a time when no vaccinations or proper medicines existed, there was no way to stand up against the deadly creatures. In fact, research shows that mosquitoes can be held responsible for killing off half of the entire human population that has ever lived.
Most of the killings by mosquitoes ironically happened when humans were waging wars against each other. For instance, during the Battle of Plataea, mosquito-borne diseases like malaria wiped out about forty percent of the Persian troops when they ended up in a marshland area. Similarly, the British Empire lost a large number of their soldiers during the colonial period while trying to establish their control all over America.
While trying to take over Columbia and Cuba, most of their soldiers ended up dying due to diseases caused by mosquitoes. Yellow fever struck again when they were trying to conquer Havana. It can be said that more than death by combat, mosquitoes made sure that there were more deaths due to diseases during major war periods.
While it all seems fascinating, it should never be forgotten that a mosquito does not belong in your home, and that they have been known to cause epidemics, and that they can cause them again. Therefore, while marvelling at their powers, it would be a good idea to hold your bug spray close as well.