While the UK has so far avoided the dangers of mosquito-borne diseases due to its temperate weather conditions, it may not be the case for future summers.
Mosquito bites might be aggravating for the skin and the itchiness be a real nuisance, but the primary concern for experts such as Dr Oliver Brady from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, is how diseases spread across the world due to climate change – including the viral infection dengue fever, which is spread to humans by a bite from a female Yellow Fever mosquito.
We asked Dr Brady what we can expect in the UK in the future and whether we should be donning insect repellant more often than we’d like to in the near future.
Should we expect more mosquitoes in the UK in the future?
Generally speaking, the hotter and wetter it gets in the UK the more mosquitoes we should expect.
We also might begin to see mosquitoes earlier in the year and for longer stretches throughout the year, particularly in spring and summer.
But the bigger threat we face is that new species of mosquitoes could arrive and establish in the UK, particularly species of mosquitoes that are able to transmit diseases like dengue, Zika and malaria.
So far we have been able to intercept mosquitoes when they arrive at ports and control them before they establish populations in the UK, but this is going to become increasingly difficult over the coming years.
Across Europe, we now see more flooding – does a heavy rainfall affect the mosquito population?
Unexpected increases in rainfall can create lots of new opportunities for mosquitoes to lay eggs in new places and can lead to some big increases in mosquito populations, particularly in the spring.
However, even areas that experience less rainfall than expected can also see increases in mosquitoes as people begin to store water in open containers that mosquitoes then lay their eggs inside.
Climate change makes both extreme rainfall and extreme drought more likely and each of these present a particular risk for big increases in mosquito populations.