Particularly active mosquitoes are currently on the move in Germany. This applies, for example, to the mosquito species that only develop with one generation per year, such as the majority of forest and meadow mosquitoes, said Doreen Werner from the Leibniz Center for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) in Müncheberg of the German Press Agency. Compared to house mosquitoes, they are slightly larger and sometimes more aggressive. The common house mosquito is also building up its first population – and this year two weeks earlier than usual.
It has been warm in the past few weeks – a favorable circumstance for the development of the population. Currently, the mosquitoes only need a week from the time the bloodsucking females lay their eggs until the next generation hatches. “The season is only just getting started,” said Werner.
Is there a risk of a particularly mosquito-ridden summer? “I can’t look into the crystal ball,” said Werner. Because it is so dependent on the weather and temperature, it is difficult to predict how it will develop over longer periods of time.
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“Mosquitoes like it moist and warm, and if one of these components breaks down, then it’s harder for the mosquitoes to reproduce,” the biologist explained. When it’s dry, the insects can’t find breeding grounds in which to lay their eggs. “Then they fly pregnant around for weeks.” If it rains again and doesn’t get warmer, the development time for the population to build up is longer.
Werner, who specializes in researching around 50 known mosquito species in Germany, is also out and about in river meadows and on lake shores. There are also small, aggressive mosquitoes on the move – flood mosquitoes. They are dependent on fluctuating water levels and can develop well in many places. In some regions there is an increased incidence of mosquitoes, said the biologist.
An invasive species, the Asian bush mosquito, is also buzzing in almost all federal states and has been very active since April. The biologist and her research team were able to see this using the mosquito atlas. In it, mosquitoes are mapped with the help of submissions from the population. About 500 mosquitoes have already been sent this season – a good number, Werner said with satisfaction.
According to the scientist, the mosquito atlas is also an important tool in light of the fact that mosquito species can also be carriers of dangerous pathogens and species suitable as carriers are increasingly spreading. For example, five new mosquito species have been identified in Germany in recent years. In addition, numerous introductions and founder populations of the Asian tiger mosquito have been discovered and appropriate controls carried out.
Not only the Asian tiger mosquito and the Asian bush mosquito have firmly established themselves throughout Germany, but also the Korean bush mosquito, explained Werner. The exotic species that can transmit tropical pathogens such as Zika, Chikungunya or Dengue viruses can no longer be eradicated.
Werner pointed out that everyone can do something themselves against the spread of mosquitoes: possible breeding grounds should be eliminated and rain barrels covered.
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