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One hundred and ten trillion is a number so large it’s difficult to comprehend. Especially when it comes to our deadliest predator and learning 110 trillion of them exist — that number goes from unfathomable to terrifying.

Fascinatingly terrifying is how Colorado Mesa University history instructor, Timothy Winegard, PhD, sees it. After years of studying the mosquito and its connection to humanity's history, Winegard wrote the New York Times bestselling novel, The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator.

“I always thought if I was going to be famous for anything it would be playing hockey,” said Winegard, who also coaches the CMU hockey team. “As a Canadian that was kind of the boyhood dream.”

Instead, Winegard’s book has received attention on a national scale, from The Economist, the New York Times, NPR, CBS, The New Yorker, USA Today and many more.

In his book, he unveils the relationship between man and mosquito and how the fate of many wars were decided not by humans, but by a creature no bigger than a fingernail.

“We think we get to make our own history and that's not the case," Winegard said. "She (mosquito) was far more lethal than the minds of the most brilliant generals or man-made weapons.”

The female mosquito is the one that bites. She needs the blood in order to procreate, but she’s a vector for disease, and lethal ones. Roughly 52 billion people, nearly half of all the humans who have ever lived, have fallen victim to her bite.

“We live in a very dangerous world, no question,” said Winegard. "We have snakes and sharks and spiders and wolves and crocodiles, and other humans for the matter. The real danger though, is in your backyard.”

On August 29, Winegard presented to students, faculty, staff and community members in the Rocky Mountain PBS studio on CMU's campus. He discussed his research, his book and how it came to fruition. He addressed the historical impact of the mosquito, that until recently, wasn’t fully understood. 

“I slowly started putting the puzzle pieces together to create a picture, and I found this larger puzzle where I could see the connections being made throughout history between mosquito-borne diseases and very important turning points, such as wars and events across our existence.”

Winegard’s work started a global conversation about mosquitos and their role like never before.

“I’m humbled to see my hard work and many years of research and writing payoff,” said Winegard.

To read more about Winegard and his book, check out articles on the Smithsonian, Los Angeles Times and the numerous other media outlets on the web.  

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Written by Kelsey Coleman