And here is the Nature India photo contest 2018 finalist number five:
Aditya Kanwal, PhD student, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali, Punjab
Photo caption: The pretty side of mosquitoes
Not all mosquitoes are evil. There’s another side to their story. Aditya Kanwal draws our attention to the wondrous side of these much-maligned vectors through this picture he shot in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh, India in the summer of 2018:
Mosquitoes are one of the deadliest animals on Earth. They kill more humans than any other organism does. They can transmit parasites such as worms, fly larva, protozoa and viruses without getting affected themselves and cause deadly diseases such as malaria, dengue, West Nile virus, chikungunya, yellow fever, filariasis, encephalitis, Ross River fever and Zika.
However, of around 3500 mosquito species, only a few are disease carriers. And only the females bite humans. Most mosquitoes don’t bother humans, and actually play a very important role in our ecosystem. Mosquito adults as well as larvae are important source of food for birds, amphibians and fishes. This means, eradicating them completely may drastically impact the food chain.
Mosquitoes are also essential pollinators for many plant species and provide nutrition to some of them such as the pitcher plants. Therefore, complete removal of mosquitoes may also have detrimental effects on several plant species. Some people argue that it won’t be long before other species occupy the niche. But it takes millions of years for organisms to co-evolve. So in case mosquitoes go extinct, it may take some more sacrifices and a long time for the ecosystem to stabilise.
What the world needs is smarter, targeted strategies to control only the disease-causing species of mosquitoes. Initial trials with genetically modified male mosquitoes, that are unable to carry a vector or produce lethal offspring when they mate, are showing promise. With all the funding that’s going into mosquito research, we may soon have a sane solution to tackle our biggest enemy with minimum collateral damage.
Congratulations Aditya for making it to top ten with a unique perspective to the mosquito story!
The Nature India editorial and design teams will shortlist the top three from the ten stunning images we are rolling out now in no particular order of merit. Nature India’s final decision to chose the winner will be partly influenced by the engagement and reception these pictures receive here at the Indigenus blog, on Twitter and on Facebook. To give all finalists a fair chance, we will consider the social media engagement each picture gets only during the first seven days of its announcement. The final results will be announced sometime in late January 2019.
The winner of the Nature India photo contest 2018 will receive a cash award of $350, the second prize is worth $250 and the third $200. Photographs will be judged for novelty, creativity, quality and printability by a panel of Nature Research editors and photographers alongside a leading Indian scientist working in the area of vector-borne diseases. The winner and two runners-up will receive a copy of the Nature India Annual Volume 2017 and a bag of goodies (including Collector’s first issues of Nature and Scientific American and some other keepsakes) from the Nature Research. One of the winning entries also stands a chance of being featured on the cover a forthcoming print publication.
So watch out for our other finalists and feel free to promote, share and like your favourite entries with the hashtag #NatureIndphoto.