Commonly called mosquitoes or mosquitoes, members of the taxonomic family Culicidae are one of the most abundant insects on the planet, fulfilling important ecological functions beyond the negative reputation of mosquito pests as vectors of infectious diseases. With more than 3,500 species of mosquitoes distributed throughout the planet (with the exception of Antarctica and some remote islands), it is logical to think that the role of these animals in the global ecosystem of the planet must be of great relevance.
Pollinating function of mosquitoes
When wondering what mosquitoes feed on, the main answer that comes to mind is usually “the blood of humans and other animals.” However, this answer is only half true, as it is only female mosquitoes that feed on blood, thus following a diet based on hematophagy, while male mosquitoes feed on nectar .
In this way, it is essential to highlight the pollinating function that male mosquitoes fulfill by feeding on the nectar of the flowers of the different ecosystems in which they inhabit, favoring the reproduction and survival of thousands of plant species that fill both urban ecosystems with life. like rainforests where mosquitoes abound.
Balancing food chains and populations
It is the link that mosquitoes form within the food chains of the ecosystems in which they inhabit. It is an important function to maintain the balance of the trophic networks of animal species with both nocturnal and diurnal habits. Thanks to the different periods of activity of mosquitoes, from twilight and at night in most species, to the presence of some species during the day, mosquitoes become prey for numerous species of animals , both vertebrates and invertebrates, during the different hours of their feeding activity.
Thus, both small mosquitoes and large mosquitoes with daytime habits can serve as food for birds, while those other species of mosquitoes with nocturnal habits will be common prey for nocturnal animals such as bats and geckos. Furthermore, during the developmental stages in which mosquitoes live in aquatic environments, they regularly feed fish and amphibians.
They not only help to maintain a balance in nature in the sense that they serve as food for many species, but they also do so by being vectors of some infectious diseases through their bites, which helps to balance the populations of some species of animals; similar to the role of predators.
During the life cycle of a mosquito, these amazing insects go through four stages of development: eggs, larvae, pupae, and adults, in this order.
Each of these stages is carried out under certain environmental conditions, fulfilling different functions within the balance of ecosystems, including the ability of mosquitoes to decompose remains of organic matter , thus favoring the recycling of nutrients and their contribution to the soil so that they can be used by plants and other organisms.
Thus, within the life cycle of mosquitoes and their decomposing function , it is worth highlighting how mosquito eggs, larvae and pupae develop in aquatic environments, sometimes forming a nest of mosquitoes of different sizes, while organisms in the adult state They live in land and air environments, thanks to their ability to fly.
Now that we have discovered what mosquitoes are for in the ecosystem, it is important to highlight how their absence would have direct and indirect consequences for the proper development and survival of thousands of species, including humans.
Thanks to the benefits of mosquitoes, such as the pollination of plants and the balance of the food chains that we have described previously, human beings have more prosperous environments, with the consequent stability of the planet.
Thus, although on many occasions we think that it would be good for mosquitoes to disappear, mainly those species that are vectors of infectious diseases, the reality is that the role of mosquitoes in regulating animal and plant populations is much more essential at the level of the nature and the balance of the entire planet.
With all this, it is essential to put our coexistence with mosquitoes before exterminating them , thus opting for measures such as the use of natural mosquito repellants that protect us from their possible bites and transmission of diseases, while keeping them alive and We allow them to continue fulfilling their very important ecological functions.