Mosquitoes Are Awful. So Why Haven't We Tried Exterminating Them?

Mosquitoes are the deadliest animals on Earth, but scientists warn that exterminating all of them could have disastrous consequences.
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Mosquitoes Are Awful. So Why Haven't We Tried Exterminating Them?

Mosquitoes are annoying. And because they spread malaria, Zika, dengue fever and other diseases, mosquitoes are the deadliest animals in the world, killing about 725,000 people each year.

That begs the question: Why don't we just exterminate them?

Humans are skilled at getting rid of animal species. We've killed off dodo birds and Tasmanian tigers, and they were actually kind of cool.

But wiping out the mosquito population might not be helpful in the long run. Some mosquitoes can provide a food source for other animals and help pollinate plants.

Plus, only a fraction of the 3,000 mosquito species bite humans. And of those that do, only a handful, like Aedes aegypti, can actually spread disease.

Scientists are still trying to remove as many of the bloodsuckers as possible with some pretty creative methods.

In one trial, scientists altered Aedes aegypti DNA to create infertile offspring. Those insects were released in the Cayman Islands and caused a 96 percent drop in the mosquito population.

Other methods are less science and more science fiction: Researchers have developed a system that targets mosquitoes and shoots them down with lasers.

But no matter what methods are used, mosquitoes are likely here to stay. The executive director of Chicago's North Shore Mosquito Abatement District said "it is absolutely impossible to kill all the mosquitoes. … There will always be a remnant population somewhere that will repopulate."