Mosquitoes Kill More People All Other Animals Combined

Bill Gates is working to raise awareness of the world's deadliest animal: the mosquito.

Bill Gates is working to raise awareness of the world’s deadliest animal: the mosquito. They kill more humans than all other animals put together–excluding humans, of course.

When it comes to killing humans, no other animal even comes close. Take a look:


What makes mosquitoes so dangerous? Despite their innocuous-sounding name—Spanish for “little fly”—they carry devastating diseases. The worst is malaria, which kills more than 600,000 people every year; another 200 million cases incapacitate people for days at a time. It threatens half of the world’s population and causes billions of dollars in lost productivity annually. Other mosquito-borne diseases include dengue fever, yellow fever, and encephalitis.

There are more than 2,500 species of mosquito, and mosquitoes are found in every region of the world except Antarctica. During the peak breeding seasons, they outnumber every other animal on Earth, except termites and ants. They were responsible for tens of thousands of deaths during the construction of the Panama Canal. And they affect population patterns on a grand scale: In many malarial zones, the disease drives people inland and away from the coast, where the climate is more welcoming to mosquitoes.

Considering their impact, you might expect mosquitoes to get more attention than they do. Sharks kill fewer than a dozen people every year and in the U.S. they get a week dedicated to them on TV every year. Mosquitoes kill 50,000 times as many people, but if there’s a TV channel that features Mosquito Week, I haven’t heard about it.

Naturally, he’s commissioned a Mosquito Week video, viewable at the link.

via Martin Butcher

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A buddy of mine contracted West Nile virus. Recovered, but he was in a coma for over a week, ICU for 2. Dam near didn’t make it. A close thing.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    The linked article finesses the term “killed by” too much. I strongly suspect that last year not a single human being was killed by a mosquito in the same sense in which we’d say a crocodile killed a human being.

    If you’re going to use the phrase the way they do, you should also tally up the deaths due to the thousands of zoonotic diseases.

    The real culprits are various microorganisms and I think they should be accorded their pride of place.

  3. James Joyner says:

    @Dave Schuler: Yes, a fair point. Mosquitoes themselves aren’t killers—even in the way bees are—but rather carriers of disease. This is an interesting way to highlight the threat of mosquito-borne illness but is a bit cute.

  4. Mikey says:

    I contributed to this product’s crowdfunding campaign. Currently they are field testing in Uganda, where malaria is a major killer. Once that’s done and FDA approval goes through, it will be available in the US. Hopefully all works out.

  5. Dave Schuler says:

    Oh, and using that definition I strongly suspect that more people are killed by people than by any other animal. Add deaths in war, deaths in auto collisions, homicides, and death from diseases communicated from one person to another and it’s probably at least as great as by death from mosquito-borne illness.

  6. JKB says:

    Well, if we are going to count the carriers of microorganisms, then water is probably top of the list. Not only does it breed the mosquitoes but it carries dysentery and typhoid to name so of the top killers. And it does kill a few directly each year as well.

  7. Ron Beasley says:

    We are lucky here in the Pacific Northwest. We have had no people get West Nile and only a handful of dead birds. The reason is it’s very dry here in the summer – little or no standing water where mosquitoes breed.

  8. @Ron Beasley:

    We have had no people get West Nile

    That they know of. 80% of people who get infected with West Nile Virus never have any symptoms and 95% of those that do just get flu-like symptoms for 3-6 days.

  9. bill says:

    why did they omit deer? they cause apprx 200 deaths per year due to accidents.