When Ronald Ross tipped over the water tank outside his bungalow in Bangalore, it began a lifelong battle against mosquitoes. It was 1883 and Ross, only two years out of medical school, was the British Army’s new garrison surgeon. Overall, he was happy with the posting – he considered the city, with its sun, gardens and villas, to be the best in southern India.
He was less enthusiastic about the mosquitoes. Having arrived to find his room filled with the sound of buzzing wings, he decided to hunt down and destroy their breeding ground in pools of stagnant tank water. The ploy worked: as he drained the tanks, mosquito numbers fell