Tim Bornholdt

How Mosquitoes Changed Everything

In total, Winegard estimates that mosquitoes have killed more people than any other single cause—fifty-two billion of us, nearly half of all humans who have ever lived. He calls them “our apex predator,” “the destroyer of worlds,” and “the ultimate agent of historical change.”

When our troop would go to a week-long Scout Camp in northern Minnesota, we always chose to stay in the Voyageur side of the campground. It was the most rugged of the offerings, where we had to cook our own food and sleep in military-style, open flap tents.

These green mesh tents were essentially a giant World War 2-era parachute string across a structure of three connected pieces of wood.

Part of our responsibility as scouts was to bring mosquito netting.

I spent many summers in my early youth across the lake at Family Camp with my mom, sister, and cousins. One year, though, I was just about old enough to stay with the scouts, so my parents had me back a bag for an overnight excursion.

I grabbed whatever supplies I could find in our camping closet, including the mosquito netting, and embarked for the trip.

As I was in the camp ground setting things up, I pulled apart the netting and realized that it was full of holes. They weren’t too big, I assumed, noting that they ranged in size from quarter-shape to softball-shape.

That night was one of the worst nights of my life.

In the silence of night, all I could hear were mosquitoes buzzing in my ears. Tormenting me. Biting me.

I must’ve spent half the night swatting at the air in vein, desperately trying to fall asleep and get some relief from all the bites.

It got so bad that I opted to climb under my tent mate’s netting and sleep on the tarp rather than my cot with a mattress and sleeping bag.

I say this with zero hyperbole: I hate mosquitoes more than anything on this planet. Even more than people who flick their cigarettes out of their car window.