Not many insects have their own global day declared in their honour. But not many insects cause so much suffering.
August 20 is World Mosquito Day, a day that has been set aside annually since 1897 to raise awareness of the importance of mosquito control. “Mosquitoes cause more human suffering than any other organism, and afflict not only humans, but animals as well,” the American Mosquito Control Association says in a release.
The annual event was originated in the late 1800s by Dr. Ronald Ross of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. After dissecting mosquitoes known to have fed on a patient with malaria, Ross discovered the malaria parasite in the stomach wall of the mosquito.
Through further research using malarious birds, Ross was able to ascertain the entire life cycle of the malarial parasite, including its presence in the mosquito’s salivary glands. Ross confirmed that malaria is transmitted from infected birds to healthy ones by the bite of a mosquito, a finding that suggested the disease’s mode of transmission to humans. For his findings, Ross is credited with the discovery of the transmission of malaria by the mosquito, and was honored with a Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1902.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 350-500 million cases of malaria occur worldwide each year, and more than one million people die, most of them young children in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
In Western climates they are more closely associated with spreading equine encephalitis (sleeping sickness) and the West Nile virus.
The American Mosquito Control Association is an international, scientific association of nearly 2,000 public health professionals dedicated to preserving the public’s health and well-being through safe, environmentally sound mosquito control. Founded in 1935, membership extends to more than 50 countries, and includes individuals and public agencies engaged in mosquito control, mosquito research and related activities.