Do you have a burning question about church, Episcopal/Anglican traditions, theology, and so on? In our weekly feature "Ask Dear Old Dad," after the classic "Dear Abby" format, the Rev. Reese Riley, COS Senior Adjunct Clergy, will tackle your questions with his signature wisdom and charm. And by the way, there are no dumb questions! You may request to be anonymous, or you may have your name published. Your questions will inspire the conversation!
Why did God even make mosquitoes?
Michael May (age 7)
Good question, Michael.
Mosquitoes exist all over our planet. Different groups of people have different stories and myths to explain how mosquitoes came into existence and what their purpose is. Most agree that mosquitoes are a bother.
Now, a “WHY” question begs the answer, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”
When I first thought about your question, it came to me that maybe what happened is that God sneezed, “MoooOOO—-SKEETO!!”
In the first chapter of the first book of the Bible—Genesis I—whenever God speaks, something is brought into being.
In Genesis’ account of creation, on the third day, God brought forth dry land and called it Earth. Still on the third day, God planted trees, grasses, flowers, and vegetation of every sort.
(The fourth day brings about the sun, moon, and stars.)
On the fifth day of creation, God infused the waters with water-born life and the air
with winged creatures.
On day six, God speaks and brings into being all cattle, wild beasts, whatever “creeps on the ground,” and finally humankind.
What I know about mosquitoes is that they require water for their life cycle: their eggs require water to hatch, and they grow up in water. So, in the Genesis account of creation, mosquitoes in all probability arrived on day five. While maturing in water, mosquitoes are food for fishes, ducks, frogs, and the like. As flying adults, mosquitoes are food for birds, bats, frogs, dragonflies, and fish.
Mosquitoes eat plant sugars from flowers and decaying vegetation as well as aphids. This is all well and good—a nice life cycle involving the third and fifth days of creation.
Trouble arrives when earthbound creatures, including us humans, show up. Mosquitoes are attracted to us by the carbon dioxide we breathe out, our body heat, and how we smell (due to hygiene, diet, blood type, perfumes, and so on). So, what seemed like a good idea at the time (on creation days three and five) gets messy on day six, largely because we have blood pumping in our bodies.
For many types of mosquitoes, blood is required for the females to produce the eggs necessary for procreation. And so you and I become prey for those female mosquitoes that need our blood for their eggs. The irritation and itching from a mosquito bite is from the spit a mosquito injects into us after puncturing our skin to suck our blood. This injecting is also how diseases such as malaria and West Nile virus are spread. Because of our blood connection, mosquitos are not only a bother but also can be deadly in some regions.
Michael, I’m not particularly bothered by mosquitoes. Since I’m warm-blooded and breathe out carbon dioxide, it must be my smell. Evidently, to mosquitoes, I’m a stinker.
Dear Old Dad (DOD)
Have a question? Submit to Hannah at HannahR@COSepiscopal.org