• Question: why has there been a badger cull and not a mosquito cull, because mosquitos spread more disease than badgers?

    Asked by 09lomash to Laura, Nicola, Norman, Sandra, Thanasis on 14 Mar 2013.
    • Photo: Laura Soul

      Laura Soul answered on 14 Mar 2013:

      Humans have actually tried to reduce the numbers of mosquitoes several times in history. The problem is that they very quickly become resistant to all the chemicals that we try to use against them.

      When you’re doing a badger cull you just have to catch the badgers, they’re pretty big and there aren’t that many of them so it’s not too hard. Mosquitoes can fly away and are tiny so they’re pretty impossible to catch, and even when you do there are millions of them on the planet so its a much harder job.

      Sometimes they become resistant to the chemicals we use, and other times we discover that the chemicals we are using are actually harmful to humans so we have to stop using them even if its helping against the mosquitoes.

      So we do get rid of lots of mosquitoes all the time, and scientists are trying to think of new ways to get rid of them all the time, but it’s a very difficult job.

    • Photo: Nicola Wardrop

      Nicola Wardrop answered on 14 Mar 2013:

      This is a great questions, and there are a couple of different reasons.

      Firstly, as Laura has said below, there have been (and still are) a lot of attempts to control mosquitoes, but there are so many of them, over such a massive area (lots of countries have mosquitoes), that it makes it really difficult to control them. There are a few new methods around at the moment which people are looking into…they are pretty fancy! One of them is to release genetically modified mosquitoes – they will be released into the wild, mate with wild mosuitoes, but they will pass on an error in their DNA which will kill all their offspring. If we keep doing this for long enough, they think that it will eventually get rid of mosquitoes completely in some areas. However, this is difficult as many people are totally against the release of GM mosquitoes…who knows what might happen to them in the future! Also, it would be very expensive, so not really possible to use it over very large areas.

      Another reason is that diseases spread by mosquitoes usually happen in the poorest countries in the world…they don’t affect rich countries like the UK or America as much. Unfortunately, this means that not as much money goes into research or control of the disease. As bovine tuberculosis is making Britain lose money, the Government are willing to do something about…even though the problem is not as bad as (for example) malaria in Kenya. Of course, we do spend money on mosquito research and control (and other diseases and insects), but it is not always as high a priority for the UK Government as things which are affecting the UK.

    • Photo: Norman Lazarus

      Norman Lazarus answered on 15 Mar 2013:

      Great question! Mosquitos carry malaria while flies cause other diseases. The science behind this is solid. There is a big program to try to eradicate malaria. Maybe it will work maybe it will not. Malaria has killed more people that any other disease. At one time there was malaria in Europe not know, but beware climate change.As you know badgers have TB, not a nice disease, so do deer so do cows. The current idea is that it is the badgers that are infecting the cows. So scientists have come up with the idea that if badgers are removed then TB in cows will disappear. The science behind all this is very dodgey. We will only know if the idea is true after the badgers have been culled. Keep watching events as they unfold and come to your own conclusions.