The good and the bad in biodiversity

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At some point last week a small fly bit my leg, perhaps a biting midge in the family Ceratopogonidae*.   In doing so, the fly infected the wound with bacteria, possibly a Staphylococcus species.  That’s turned into a large, painful cellulitis (pictured) that is causing fever, body aches, dizziness, sweating, sleep problems, exhaustion, and general unwellness**.  Although I love biodiversity, sometimes it causes all kinds of health problems for humans.  Bad biodiversity.

A visit to my GP yesterday afternoon resulted in her prescribing me a course of antibiotics, specifically clarithromycin.  Although this is a synthetic antibiotic it was developed as a variant of erythromycin which in turn is a natural antibiotic isolated from the bacterium Streptomyces erythraea.  Good biodiversity.

There’s a temptation in environmentalism to see nature as all good, a Mother Earth that provides for us.  Which it does, and one way of considering these benefits is as ecosystem services.  However nature also inflicts a whole range of ecosystem disservices on the human population of this planet, backed up by some of its biodiversity.  Nature is neither all good nor all bad, it just is.

My first year undergraduate classes start next week with the module Biodiversity: an Introduction.  I hope to be well enough to teach it and at some point I’ll use this as an example the good and the bad in biodiversity.

 

 

*Ironically flies in this family are major pollinators of one of the main groups of plants I study in the genus Ceropegiasee this post from last year.

**And a pain in the arse to my wife – sorry Karin!  It was she who persuaded me to go and see the GP after a few days of “no, no, it will get better on its own….”

15 Comments

Filed under Biodiversity

15 responses to “The good and the bad in biodiversity

  1. Ouch! Hope your recovery is swift.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I had a mosquito bite swell up to 13 cm by 9.5 cm this year…nature, red in tooth and claw! Haha

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I had no idea fly bites could lead to infection. I occasionally get bites or stings from something that leave a big purple spot that lasts for weeks. No, nature isn’t good or bad but education is good because we can learn how to be careful out there.

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  4. thank you for this information……….may you heal quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Did you actually see the fly and feel the bite?
    If not, I would not risk the chance of it being a tick bite, and, definitely look for antibiotics right away. There is a seemingly world wide invasion and mixing of tick species, with previously almost unheard of diseases being reported on health monitoring services all the time.

    As for the small flies. In the dusk or late afternoon, blackflies (Simulidae) can be almost invisible and very quiet, as they bite through your jeans! If I stayed in the garden too late in the afternoon, I used to end up with pus volcanoes all over arms and legs! The flies are supposed to not go far from running water, but they do round here (Luton)!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I assumed fly because there was no tick there, just a small, raised, itchy bite mark. But it could have been, and initially I was worried about Lyme Disease. Currently on antibiotics and I had a blood test at the weekend so they will check for that.

      Agreed, simulids are also a possibility, and some species can be pollinators too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Sounds nasty! I hope you will be over it soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Glad to hear you are on the mend!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ouch! Avon make a moisturizer called ‘Skin so soft’ that is the most insect repellent thing I have come across. It works for me gardening! Wishing you a speedy recovery.

    Like

  9. Pingback: What are my most read blog posts of 2018? A short review of the year | Jeff Ollerton's Biodiversity Blog

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