It is the kind of everyday event that in the wrong place and time becomes unnerving. You are on vacation. Perhaps you are stroll-ing at dusk along Fifth Avenue in New York. Maybe you’ve been taking pictures in the bush in Kenya, or you are stepping off a ferry in Hong Kong. In a quiet moment, you feel the itch behind your knee. You reach down and touch a hot, raised welt—a mosquito bite—and you wonder:
Do mosquitoes in this place carry disease?
Is an outbreak underway?
What are the odds that the particular mosquito that drained my blood left something deadly behind?
The mere fact that we ask these questions demonstrates the power of the mosquito. No animal on earth has touched so directly and profoundly the lives of so many human beings. For all of history and all over the globe she has been a nuisance, a pain, and an angel of death. Mosquitoes have felled great leaden, decimated armies, and decided the fates of nations. All this, and she is roughly the size and weight of a grape seed.