The Mosquito Book Summary - The Mosquito Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

The Mosquito summary

Timothy C. Winegard

A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator

4.7 (136 ratings)
45 mins

Brief summary

The Mosquito by Timothy C. Winegard is a captivating historical account of how the deadliest animal in the world has altered the course of human history, from spreading diseases that shaped empires to affecting the outcome of wars.

Table of Contents

    The Mosquito
    Summary of 14 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 14

    Thriving in wet warm conditions, mosquitos are vectors for a variety of diseases, of which malaria is the deadliest.

    Before we take a deep dive into human history, let’s first step back and meet our story’s antagonist: the mosquito itself. 

    Or rather, the mosquito herself. It’s only the female mosquito which bites us to suck up our blood – potentially transferring a disease to us in the process. She uses the blood to develop her eggs. A few days after biting us, she’ll lay about 200 of them on the surface of a stagnant body of water. It could be a pond, a swamp, a puddle or even just a tiny pool of rainwater in a discarded beer can. She doesn’t need much to work with. That being said, the wetter the environment, the better it’ll serve as a breeding ground for the insect. 

    Temperature also plays a crucial role in the flourishing of mosquitos. They prefer temperatures above 75 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas they cannot survive in temperatures below 50 or above 105. As a result, in temperate climates, they emerge only in the spring, summer and fall, while in tropical climates, they’re active all year long. 

    Warm wet environments thus provide ideal conditions to mosquitos, as well as the diseases they carry. These diseases are caused by pathogens that use the mosquito as vectors – organisms by which they transmit themselves. There are at least 15 mosquito-borne diseases that affect human beings, and they derive from three types of pathogens: viruses, worms and parasites. They include the worms that cause elephantiasis, which provokes extreme swelling of the limbs and other body parts, along with the viruses that cause dengue, Zika, West Nile and yellow fever.

    Historically, however, the heaviest hitter has been the parasite that causes malaria. There are five types of malaria that affect human beings, the deadliest of which are vivax and falciparum. Capable of causing 106-degree Fahrenheit fevers, seizures and comas that can lead to death rates of up to 50 percent, malaria began afflicting our prehuman ancestors six to eight million years ago, and it’s been plaguing us ever since. 

    As it gets passed back and forth between humans and mosquitos, the malaria parasite mutates multiple times during its multi-stage reproductive cycle. Because of its constant shape-shifting, it is hard for scientists to pin down the parasite and develop an effective vaccine. But that hasn’t stopped human beings from fighting back against it, in a war that goes back thousands of years.

    Want to see all full key ideas from The Mosquito?

    Key ideas in The Mosquito

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is The Mosquito about?

    The Mosquito (2019) provides a sweeping tour of human history with a novel twist. As it follows the course of the pivotal events that shaped the world in which we live today, it draws attention to some of the most important but under-appreciated factors that have influenced those events: the mosquito and the deadly diseases it carries.

    The Mosquito Review

    The Mosquito (2019) is a captivating exploration of the mighty insect that has shaped history in ways we never imagined. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • By highlighting the impact of mosquitoes on human civilization, it reveals the complex interactions between biology, culture, and history, providing a fresh perspective on global events.
    • Through his meticulous research and storytelling, Winegard delves into the deadly diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, shedding light on the devastating toll they have taken on humanity.
    • This book challenges our assumptions by examining mosquitoes as more than just annoying pests, showing how they have influenced wars, shaped economies, and altered the course of empires.

    Who should read The Mosquito?

    • World history buffs seeking a new perspective on pivotal events in the past 
    • People interested in how diseases have shaped our species 
    • Anyone looking for even more reasons to hate the mosquito 

    About the Author

    Timothy C. Winegard is a professor of history and political science at Colorado Mesa University. He has a PhD in history from the University of Oxford. A former officer of the Canadian and British armed forces, he specializes in military history and indigenous studies. He has written four other books, including The First World Oil War (2016) and For King and Kanata: Canadian Indians and the First World War (2008).

    Categories with The Mosquito

    Book summaries like The Mosquito

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    32 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,500+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial

    The Mosquito FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Mosquito?

    The main message of The Mosquito is that mosquitoes have had a profound impact on human history, from shaping empires to influencing the outcome of wars.

    How long does it take to read The Mosquito?

    It takes several hours to read The Mosquito in its entirety. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Mosquito a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Mosquito is a captivating and informative book that sheds light on the often overlooked role of mosquitoes in shaping human history. A must-read for history enthusiasts.

    Who is the author of The Mosquito?

    The author of The Mosquito is Timothy C. Winegard.

    What to read after The Mosquito?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Mosquito, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Human Swarm by Mark W. Moffett
    • Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
    • You Only Die Once by Jodi Wellman
    • The CBT Workbook for Mental Health by Simón Rego & Sarah Fader
    • Says Who? by Anne Curzan
    • How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes
    • Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
    • Elon Musk by Walter Isaacson
    • The Obesity Code by Jason Fung
    • Atlas of AI by Kate Crawford