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She hunts by smell and sight, and has wiped out roughly 52 billion people from the planet. She’s been dubbed humanity’s deadliest predator after killing nearly half of all human beings who have ever lived. She — being the female mosquito — annoys us, bites us and transmits a number of deadly pathogens. Until recently, the level of disruption and destruction the mosquito has caused humanity was unknown, but by viewing human history as a puzzle and taking pieces from a wide variety of academic fields, a Colorado Mesa University instructor has started a global conversation about mosquitos and their role in human history.

Timothy Winegard, PhD, is no stranger to the mosquito. The instructor of history has spent years studying the insect and its impact on human history. His years of research culminated in the recent release of the New York Times best-selling novel The Mosquito: A Human History of our Deadliest Predator. In it, he unveils the relationship between humans and mosquitos, and it’s as fascinating as it is terrifying.

In his book, Winegard explains 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 (female mosquito) was far more lethal than the minds of the most brilliant generals or man-made weapons.”

From the fall of Rome to the Vietnam War, losses and victories can be traced to whether or not soldiers were based in areas with large mosquito populations — populations that carried deadly diseases such as malaria and yellow fever and were capable of wiping out a large number of soldiers.

“Mosquitos by themselves are harmless, it’s the pathogens they transmit that cause the suffering,” said Winegard, which is an important distinction to remember.

The book has received an outpouring of praise and media attention, from National Public Radio to The Economist.

Winegard, a Canada native, first arrived at CMU in 2012 and is the head coach for the men’s hockey team.

“I always thought if I was going to be famous for anything it would be for playing hockey,” said Winegard. “As a Canadian that was kind of the boyhood dream, but I think it’s exciting and it’s extremely surreal to see my book on the New York Times’ best-seller list. I’m humbled to see my hard work and many years of research and writing payoff and come to fruition.”


Written by Kelsey Coleman