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Looks like a Giant Mosquito, but it's harmless to humans. And it kills mosquitoes

This is something worth knowing about, especially if you have a problem with mosquitoes in a tropical climate. Not all mosquitoes are the same. There are different species, and the ones that get talked about a lot are the mosquitoes that bite people and infect them with diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. Deaths spread by mosquitoes kill about two million people per year worldwide, which is about ten times the number of people killed by other people (in wars, for example).

The deadly mosquitoes are small flies which bite people. The diseases are carried by parasites, and the mosquitoes spread the infection. Therefore it's in your interests to kill the usual small mosquitoes. However, what makes the toxorhynchites species different is that although it is a mosquito, a large one at that, it doesn't bite people, and as well as being harmless to humans it's also predatory upon mosquitoes.

To put it another way, mosquitoes are vampiric insects that bite you. Toxorhynchites is a species of giant mosquito which is a vampire-slaying insect. Therefore, from a human perspective toxorhynchites can be welcomed as good news!

So, if you see a giant mosquito that's an inch long, don't kill it.

Yet the instinct is there to kill all mosquitoes. This is where it's a matter of education. Who would have thought the giant mosquito (elephant mosquito) was your friend not your enemy?!

A similar thing happened at the time of The Great Plague in Europe in Medieval times. Many people were dying of disease but the reasons for the disease were unknown at the time. It was believed by some that it was some sort of religious punishment. It was believed by others that bad smells were the cause. Some people guessed correctly that the problem was rats (it's the fleas on rats that carry the Black Death). However there were as many people who believed the problem was cats, and so there was a mistaken campaign of killing cats. Yet, the fact is that cats kill rats. Therefore, cats should be encouraged because they reduce the amount of plague.

Similarly, any species that kill disease-spreading mosquitoes, helps. Bats are good. Also, mosquito-fish, and various other species of predators. Mosquito fish are especially effective versus the mosquito because mosquito young live in water as "mosquito larvae". The fish soon devour these in open water. The problem is that mosquitoes breed in small amounts of stagnant water in canisters lying about, abandoned car tyres, etc. The fish don't get to these. However, the toxorhynchites insect can do. As it's a giant predatory mosquito, the young are giant mosquito larvae. These are very aggressive and will kill and eat the smaller mosquito larvae which would otherwise go on to become nasty blood-sucking pests.

Here are a few helpful links about toxorhynchites...









Since I moved to Panama I've made a point of learning about which of the many tropical species that are so prolific are "good" and which are "bad". Although spiders, snakes, scorpions, poisonous frogs, centipedes, and various other critters have issues, the tiny gnats and little mosquitoes are known to be a big problem. They have bitten me and it's a good thing I have plenty of anti-malarial medication. However, I now know that if I see a giant mosquito, I should let it live.

There have even been campaigns to breed elephant mosquitoes to fight disease, in various places around the world. The effectiveness of such campaigns is questionable, but one of the things that comes as a result of the studies is that the introduction of giant flying insects into an area has to include a campaign of education so people are aware of the human-friendly status of toxorhynchites. This then has the additional advantage that people get to learn about the whole mosquito business, and such things as the importance of getting rid of stagnant water in cans / tyres etc. In Panama this has been common knowledge for many decades, because during the early construction of the Panama Canal, before modern medical advances, many people died, mostly due to diseases such as malaria and yellow-fever, spread by mosquitoes.

If you know more about this than I do, write in, and let's get this page improved!