Houston Matters

Other than annoying us, what useful functions do mosquitoes serve in the ecosystem?

We learn why recent declines in mosquitoes in the Houston area isn’t the good news it might seem to be, and we get answers to other bug and insect questions from entomologist Erin Mills.


Other than annoying us and spreading diseases, what useful functions do mosquitoes serve in the ecosystem?


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From time to time, we check in with entomologist Erin Mills, education manager at the Houston Botanic Garden. And when she drops by, we encourage listeners to ask her questions about the wonderful and varied world of insects.

This summer’s extended extreme heat and (mostly) dry conditions have been rough, not just on us but also on many species in our ecosystem, insects included. As we learned recently, it’s led to fewer mosquitoes. But while we tend to think of them as blood-sucking parasites that annoy us and spread malaria, Mills reminds us that they, like every other species, have a role to play in Earth’s ecosystem, and that if there are fewer of them around because of the weather, it’s a strong indication of just how bad that extreme heat is for us.

In the audio above, we talk with Mills about mosquitoes, but also about bees and butterflies and many of Greater Houston’s other fascinating array of creepy-crawly, many-legged creatures who visit our gardens, pollinate our flowers, and occasionally crawl on our walls.

Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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