Dear Dr. Boli: Why are there mosquitoes? I mean really. —Sincerely, A girl who’s trying to enjoy her last few days before seventh grade but is getting, like, totally eaten up out here.

Dear Miss: The scientific answer to your question is very simple: there was a female mosquito, and there was a male mosquito, and they fell in love, &c., &c., and soon there were baby mosquitoes all over the place. But Dr. Boli presumes you already have a thorough understanding of these elementary scientific facts. (If not, then seventh-grade biology will come as a revelation, and you might wish to pay close attention.) The question you ask, then, is of a more philosophical than scientific nature.

It may surprise you to learn that causation is itself a complex question. Aristotle identified causes of four different sorts, and the answer to any question of “why” cannot be given until we have determined which of the four sorts of “why” we are really asking.

In the case of mosquitoes, the material cause of the mosquito is the blood it uses to form bug parts.

The formal cause is the genetic code that causes those bug parts to form in the pattern of a mosquito, rather than, for example, a bloodsucking hippopotamus. Dr. Boli would advise you not to think too much about bloodsucking hippopotamuses, even merely hypothetical ones. It is important to get several nights of good rest before you begin the adventure of seventh grade.

The efficient cause of any given mosquito is that falling in love, and more properly that &c., that its parents did.

Then we come to the final cause, which Dr. Boli suspects is what you have been looking for all along. Why are there mosquitoes when the alternative of not-mosquitoes seems so much more attractive to a rational mind?

Theologians would argue that mosquitoes are a consequence of the first human disobedience, which forever damaged humanity and the world we live in. Prelapsarian mosquitoes had no need for animal food and subsisted entirely on a diet of the juice of blood oranges, which Adam plucked and set out for them every day.

In our fallen world, it is necessary for us to be subjected to a string of small annoyances every day, so that we never forget how far we have fallen and how great is our need to be picked up again. Mosquitoes were by far the most efficient means of delivering minor annoyance until the advent of YouTube.

So the next time you hear the whine of a mosquito in your ear, you should remember that this is all part of the wonderful plan of redemption. You should remember that each individual mosquito is also an essential part of the biological cycle of life. Then you should smack that mosquito quickly and decisively, because nobody likes mosquitoes.


  1. KevinT says:

    It beggars belief that a rising 7th grader would write to Dr. Boli. I have never met even a high schooler sufficiently erudite to read Our Good Doctor, much less submit a query. Surely, this letter, though exceedingly brief, was submitted by a parent or legal guardian on behalf of the dear child.

  2. KevinT says:

    I’m also puzzled by the absence of contact information on the Celebrated Magazine site. How do children, or anyone for that matter, get in touch with Dr. Boli to submit their queries? I have pressing, serious questions, but have never seen a means for bringing them to the attention of our esteemed blogger/editor.

    • Dr. Boli says:

      You can always leave a comment at the bottom of any article. Many of our questions for “Ask Dr. Boli” have come in that way. Irrelevance has never kept us from publishing a comment, since the entire Magazine is a work of towering irrelevance.

  3. Daniel says:

    “There is an incomprehensible prodigality in the very essence of life.” — Hans Urs von Balthasar, Theo-Logic, Vol. 1: The Truth of the World — That goes for mosquitoes, the more than 6000 kinds of lacewings, and an apparently endless supply of distant galaxies.

  4. The Shadow says:

    YouTube? What of Twitter? But perhaps that is a major annoyance.

    On the maun topic, C. S. Lewis once wisely noted that “[A] heaven for mosquitoes and a hell for men could very conveniently be combined.”

  5. The Shadow says:

    In case anyone was wondering, ‘maun’ there is not an obscure word from Serbo-Croation, but a misprint for ‘main’.

  6. von Hindenburg says:

    > Theologians would argue that mosquitoes are a consequence of the first human disobedience, which forever damaged humanity and the world we live in.

    How is a theologian like a mosquito? They are both consequences of the Fall. Without it, the glass would remain undimmed and we would be as annoyed with theologians attempting to obscure our view of the Divine as with mosquitoes buzzing in our ears.

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