(Illustration from Wellcome Library, London)
Mosquitoes' lives may be ephemeral, their deaths almost always brutal. But during their transitory span, absolutely nothing will stand in the way of their two formidable guiding desires: to soak up human lifeblood, and to reproduce.
– A Mosquito's Life, J.R. Churin, 1929
Humans in love whisper "forever" and "always" and convince themselves that they mean it, every time. Mosquitoes, on the other hand, take romance to the opposite extreme. The female mosquito need make love only once in her life. The sperm, stored in her body, is then hers to use at will.
– Mosquito Habits, Dr. Sarah Jenkins, German-language edition, 1987
You have to hand it to the little buggers. They nibbled at the ankles of the earliest cavemen. They even knocked back dinosaur blood. That elevates them above most other insects. Their lives really count for something. Right up until the moment they're crushed.
Interview with scientist Rich Hutchins, Entomologists' Quarterly, Summer 2000
What they prefer most of all is stagnation. Lumpish, unaroused immobility. They adore the thick, grimy scent of inert water, of course, but anything that languishes too long – a half-eaten peach, a glass of wine, a human arm – sucks them in.
– Tape-recorded woman's voice, "The Mad, Marvelous World of Mosquitoes," Children's Museum exhibit, London, 1999
Drought smites mosquito populations – but only for a season. Then, studies show, they return in great force. They are, in fact, unstoppable. Consider that they have two hundred offspring at once, and that they carry diseases that kill someone every twenty seconds. No wonder Aristotle composed a treatise about them, the Greeks wrote them into funereal songs, and the Egyptians cursed them in hieroglyphics.
– Prof. Petri Jaaskela, lecture on mosquitoes, University of Helsinki, Finland, Department of Forest Entomology
Beware the mosquitoes; they swarm at finales. They are present at deaths, when blood is free-flowing. They flourish at the finish of summer. They will remain, the final taunting life form hovering above the final water puddle, after the last misguided human is gone and the world has ended.
– Black preacher from Heaven's End cult, corner of Bourbon and Conti, New Orleans, June 2003