By Sarah “Steve’ Mosko
I escort spiders out of my house, use humane traps to relocate attic rats, and save honey bees from drowning in pools. Yet I’ve been known to hunt with a vengeance a mosquito that’s ruining my sleep, repeatedly buzzing in earshot in search of exposed skin. At such moments, I might push a button, if one existed, to rid the world of mosquitos forever.
However, recent press about disastrous blowback when humans target species deemed a nuisance should give pause to impulses to wipe out even the most bothersome of pests. Two examples. First, the 90% decline in the population of the monarch butterfly in the last two decades from spraying herbicide on genetically modified corn and soy in the Midwest, inadvertently destroying the milkweed on which the monarch caterpillar must feed. And second, the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria from rampant misuse of antibiotics, both to treat viruses in humans and to fatten up livestock that aren’t sick. Consequently, people are at risk of picking up antibiotic-resistant superbugs when they’re hospitalized or even from eating meat.