The most dangerous creature on the planet

A good half of the people who have died in the entire history of mankind - something about 45 billion - were killed by female mosquitoes (males only bite plants).

The mosquito (or mosquito) carries over a hundred potentially fatal diseases, including malaria, yellow fever, dengue, encephalitis, filariasis, and elephantiasis (elephantiasis). Even today, every twelve seconds this insect kills one of us.

Amazingly, until the end of the 19th century, no one could have thought that mosquitoes were so dangerous. It wasn't until 1877 that Dr. Sir Patrick Manson - also known as "The Mosquito" Manson - proved that elephantiasis was caused by mosquito bites.

Seventeen years later, in 1894, Manson gets the idea that mosquitoes may also be the cause of malaria. He invites his student Ronaldo Ross, then a young physician practicing in India, to test this hypothesis.

Ross was the first to show how a female anopheles mosquito transmits the Plasmodium parasite through her own saliva. He tested his theory on birds. Manson surpassed the student. To demonstrate how the theory works, he infected his own son - using anopheles mosquitoes that he had taken out of Rome in diplomatic baggage. (Fortunately, after an immediate dose of quinine, the boy recovered.)

In 1902, Ross received the Nobel Prize in Medicine. Manson is elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and knighted. He also became the founder of the London School of Tropical Medicine.

Today there are 2, 500 known mosquito species, 400 of which are members of the Anopheles family, and 40 of them are capable of transmitting malaria.

Females lay their testicles in water and use the sucked blood to ripen them. Aquatic larvae, or pupae, hatch from the testicles. Unlike most insects, mosquito pupae, also known as "jerguns", are very active and can glide quickly through the water.

Male mosquitoes buzz in a higher pitch than females; they can be seduced by a conventional tuning fork that produces a B note.

Female mosquitoes are attracted to moisture, milk, carbon dioxide, body warmth, and movement. Sweaty people and pregnant women are much more likely to be bitten.

In Spanish and Portuguese, the word mosquito means small fly.