Wednesday, 20 Jan 2021

Swarms of mosquitoes to plague UK as heatwave continues

Swarms of mosquitoes are heading for the UK this summer as continued high temperatures and large thunderstorms create their ‘perfect breeding ground’.

The nation has seen a sustained period of humid weather this August, with temperatures not dropping below 20°C at night. This, along with the coronavirus pandemic, has created ideal conditions for mosquitoes to breed, with lockdown causing a number of swimming pools or outdoor areas to go unmaintained for longer periods of time.

Rising temperatures globally mean the insects are already more likely to move towards Europe from more tropical regions elsewhere. In 2018, there were sightings of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which can carry the Zika virus, along Sussex and Kent.

Spain has also reported the arrival of several new mosquitoes, with one, called the Aedes albopictus but known as the Asian Tiger, believed to carry 23 different types of disease. They are said to have moved across Europe from France, with cases of the insect reported in Nice in 2004.

The nation has also warned against the aedes japonicus, known as the Asian bush mosquito and originally found in Japan, Korea, China and Russia.

The insect has been linked to the spread of dengue fever, chikungunya and West Nile viruses and is thought to have arrived in Spain through trading tyres in east Asia.

The UK currently has 36 species of native mosquitoes, most of which are not capable of transmitting diseases. There are more than 2,500 different species of the insect worldwide.

In South America, they can commonly transmit the Zika virus, which can harm the development of unborn babies, while large areas of Africa and Asia face a risk of malaria.

Mosquito expert Howard Carter told the Daily Star: ‘I have seen the Zika ones myself north of Chichester in West Sussex and I am aware of sightings on the Kent coast.

‘They are not here in any great, great numbers yet but in my view, it is only a matter of time.’

He warned that the insects tend to ‘zero in’ on ears, wrists and ankles, where the skin is thinner and blood vessels are therefore closer to the surface.

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