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Why mosquitoes develop resistance to pesticides

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

mosquito pesticide resistance

Story at-a-glance -

  • Mosquitoes are developing resistance to commonly used agricultural insecticides, but their predators are not, creating the perfect environment for mosquitoes to flourish
  • When researchers compared mosquitoes on orange plantations treated for decades with dimethoate, an organophosphate insecticide, with mosquitoes found in forests not treated with insecticides, they found double the mosquitoes in the orange plantations, but a lack of damselfly larvae, which are insects known to feast on mosquitoes
  • Mosquitoes from orange plantations were 10 times more tolerant of the insecticide than the pristine forest mosquitoes
  • Damselflies from plantations succumbed to the insecticides, suggesting they have not developed resistance the away the mosquitoes have
  • One mechanism that allows mosquitoes to so efficiently develop resistance to insecticides is the overproduction of specific detoxification enzymes

Despite their tiny size, mosquitoes have been called the world's most dangerous creature because they spread deadly diseases. More than half the people on Earth live in an area where disease-carrying mosquitoes are present and, every year, mosquitoes cause millions of deaths from diseases like malaria, dengue and yellow fever.

Insecticides are considered to be one of the primary defenses against insects like mosquitoes, but they come with their own set of risks, not the least of which is the potential for resistance.

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