Bookworm of Edwards to host a discussion of mosquitos’ devastating effect on human history on Thursday | VailDaily.com

Bookworm of Edwards to host a discussion of mosquitos’ devastating effect on human history on Thursday

Dr. Timothy C. Winegard is a professor of history at Colorado Mesa University.
Rylie E. Vavra | Special to the Daily

Human beings are at war with an enemy far smaller than you would expect, and trillions of them patrol almost every inch of the globe. It is an unexpected apex predator, with a yearly death toll of almost a million. That enemy is the mosquito.

Join author and Colorado Mesa University professor Dr. Timothy C. Winegard at the Bookworm in Edwards this Thursday for a discussion of his new book, “The Mosquito.” This extremely well-researched, page-turning nonfiction tells the story of the world through the mosquito, following the course of wars, conquests, migration, and even medicine.

It’s hard to see mosquitoes as more than a nuisance in our daily lives. We encounter them on hikes, or camping trips, often as an omnipresent buzzing in our ear.

“I think I can safely say that most of you have one thing in common—a genuine hatred for mosquitoes,” Dr. Timothy C. Winegard wrote in his new book. “Bashing mosquitoes is a universal past time and has been since the dawn of humanity.”

But mosquitos’ reach far outweighs their obnoxious noise and the itchy bite mark they leave behind. Looking back through the timeline of human history evidence of her impact is everywhere; only female mosquitoes bite.

“As the pinnacle purveyor of our extermination, the mosquito has consistently been at the front lines of history as the Grim Reaper,” Winegard wrote. “She has played a greater role in shaping our story than any other animal with which we share our global village.”

“The Mosquito” was published on Aug. 6 of this year. Winegard has also authored books about the first World War.
Special to the Daily

How does a tiny insect shape the destiny of empires? The simple answer is disease.

“The mosquito has killed more people than any other cause of death in human history,” Winegard wrote. “Statistical extrapolation situates mosquito-inflicted deaths approaching half of all humans who have ever lived.” If you do the math, that adds up to 52 billion people. 

“Without the mosquito,” Winegard wrote, “our world would be completely unrecognizable. We might as well live in a galaxy far, far away.”

The mosquito and her diseases have had an effect far outside of death tolls. Things like the extinction of species, the slave trade, international colonization and religious persecution were a direct effect of her bite. The settling of the American colonies, “the Troubles” of Ireland, the cotton and sugar trade and the extinction of the dinosaurs are just a few notable examples. 

“The mosquito has truly stuck her nose everywhere and in everything,” Winegard joked. 

Despite the leaps we have made since the age of the dinosaurs, particularly in fields of science and medicine, the mosquito continues to affect our daily lives.

“Our defense budget for personal shields, sprays and other deterrents has a rapidly rising annual revenue of $11 billion,” Winegard wrote. And even though our so-called counter-attacks are decreasing the number of annual mosquito-related deaths, her bite continues to kill more humans every year than all our global wars combined. 

“Our war with the mosquito,” Winegard concluded, “is the war of our world.”

If you go …

What: Author Timothy Winegard at the Bookworm
When: Thursday, Aug. 15 at 6 p.m.
Where: Bookworm of Edwards, 295 Main St., Riverwalk at Edwards
Cost: $10 ticket, includes appetizers
More information: Call 970-926-7322 or visit http://www.bookwormofedwards.com