The mosquito is the architect of much suffering: It’s responsible for more human deaths than any other animal on earth (including other humans). And few species have caused as much misery as Aedes aegypti
. This 4-millimeter-long insect is responsible not only for the Zika outbreak
but also for transmitting yellow fever and two other excruciating diseases, dengue and chikungunya, that are currently inching their way toward the US. Scientists have been trying to kill this bug for a century, but while each generation has made insecticidal breakthroughs, A. aegypti
keeps bouncing back. “It’s a war,” says Johns Hopkins molecular entomologist George Dimopoulos— one we’ve mostly fought to a stalemate. From the lab bench to the field, here’s a chronicle of our battle with nature’s most irritating killer.