What is it with a man and crawling creatures? More importantly, how do such small things – some of them not even visible to the eyes – manage to scare the daylights out of us? If you think about it, even the toughest guy has second thoughts about the best course of action when he comes across a cockroach or other bizarre-looking creature.
Despite the fact that they spread diseases, bite, annoy and poison people ever since the dawn of time, most of us admit the important role that some pests play in maintaining the earth’s ecosystem. Yet, none of us seems to hesitate to reach for bug sprays or call the exterminator at the sight of them, as after all, we all wish that these little nuisances never existed.
Following is a top 5 of the most hated pests in the history of mankind and their paramount importance in our survival.
Often compared to terrifying blood-sucking vampires, mosquitoes are number one on everyone’s hate list, especially during the warm seasons. Even though all mosquitoes’ mouthparts are designed to pierce through human skin, little do people know that only the females feed on human blood in order to produce eggs. And, this is where the major concern with these small pests comes from: because they can pierce the skin and suck out the blood, they present a major threat of spreading pathogenic infections and are responsible for lethal diseases like yellow fever, malaria, encephalitis, rift valley fever, etc.
However, if mosquitoes were to completely vanish from the face of the Earth, the entire ecosystem will go out of balance. Mosquitoes are not only the prime food of birds, amphibians, and bats, but they are also pollinators. As you can see, because they serve both the animal and plant kingdoms, their disappearance would dramatically impact the human population.
With over 4,500 species of cockroaches existing on the planet, only four of them made it into our homes and are considered pests. While their mere appearance is enough to make most of us shriek, the true reason why we hate them so much is the fact that they feed on pretty much everything, including our food. Unfortunately for the cockroaches, they also emit a bad odor and are known to carry some diseases like hepatitis A, poliomyelitis, dysentery, typhoid, leprosy or gastroenteritis. On the other hand, because they feed on everything, cockroaches are considered the world’s biggest recyclers.
There are 2 major reasons why people hate rats and will do anything to get rid of them. First of all, they were considered the main responsible factor for the 2 plague outbursts that decimated the entire population of Europe in the Middle Ages. Secondly, due to their habitats and perhaps the color of their fur, they are seen as dirty and disease carriers.
However, the truth is that both Bubonic plagues were released and spread by the fleas carried by rats. In regards to the false dirty-animal perception, you should know that rats are among the cleanest animals on Earth. In addition, rats have been serving mankind for quite some time in fields such as military (think of minefields detection) and medicine (lab rats).
Perhaps, the scariest thing about wasps is the fact that they are parasitoid insects: essentially, they plant their larvae inside another insect’s body and as the larva starts to grow, it devours the host from the inside out. What can I say, it’s a pretty disturbing thought. At the same time, unlike bees, wasps don’t die after they sting you and hence, can inflict several stings whenever their nest is threatened. However, wasps are a gardener’s best friend: their parasitoid nature keeps the insect population in a garden under control.
Even more courageous and persistent than cockroaches, flies will not hesitate to sit in your face with every opportunity they get. Granted, they are rather ugly and the sight of a fly strolling calmly on your plate is enough to make your stomach turn. Nonetheless, they play a great role in the decomposition process and are also the primary source of food for other insects, birds, fish, amphibians, spiders, etc.