A scientist once told me that she wished for a safe way to obliterate mosquitoes from the Earth. I was kind of shocked, since it seemed like this would tinker with the natural order of the world. Don’t worry, she said: “They have absolutely no ecological value.” And just imagine the benefits: Without mosquitoes there would be no malaria and no dengue fever, also no yellow fever, no Rift Valley fever, no West Nile virus, no Japanese encephalitis, no St. Louis encephalitis virus. And of course, there would also be the far less consequential miracle of no more itchy bumps.

We’re lucky here in the United States that, with their nasty bites, our mosquitoes deliver just the small bump and itch. While I dread both — mosquitoes plague me all summer long — it could be a lot… More…