Why are we inundated with mosquitoes right now?

Mosquitoes at the moment it seems to be everywhere. France, a widespread insect throughout the world, is apparently not immune to the presence of this pest. Here, the most widespread species is the common mosquito (Culex pipiens), but the tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), originally from Asia, has been arriving in our region since 2004. This is more problematic because it can be carrier of serious diseases : dengue, chikungunya and Zika. In 2023, only 24 departments escaped its presence.

If we were more used to mosquitoes arriving in the summer season, it would seem that global warming promotes mosquito invasions by prolonging their activity time. A study published in 2018 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives is quite clear on the topic. Looking at data on mosquito populations in the northeastern United States over a 50-year period, the researchers found that the mosquito season lengthened by 33 days during that period. Blame it on the rising temperatures.

While it’s hard to say for sure right now if there are more mosquitoes than before, it seems like they are several factors contribute to the increase in mosquito populations in certain areas of the world. Why are we suddenly facing such an overpopulation of these harmful insects?

A favorable environment for reproduction and remarkable adaptive diversity

The overpopulation of mosquitoes is primarily caused a combination of favorable weather conditions and habitat suitable for their reproduction. The abundant rains and mild temperatures of recent months have created an ideal environment for egg laying and larval hatching. For the mosquito, the coincidence of these factors is a godsend.

Another very important factor to consider: the presence of water. All mosquito species need stagnant fresh water to lay their eggs and provide for their offspring. There is no shortage of it in the wild, and not even in an urban area! Gclogged gutters, drains, exposed water containers, public works, so many areas that make temporary water points and real mosquito breeding grounds.

Far from being simple pests, mosquitoes represent a true feat of animal evolution. Their exceptional ability to adapt it allows them to thrive in a wide variety of environments, making them remarkable survivors of the changes and developments of the modern world. How can we explain this extraordinary resilience?

First of all, the variety of mosquito species is quite astounding. Today there are more than 3,500 of them, spanning the four corners of the globe. This wealth is the result of a long evolutionary history that began more than 220 million years ago on Pangea, the original continent.

Over generations, geographically isolated mosquito populations have accumulated genetic differences and evolved into distinct species, each with its own biological and morphological characteristics. On each continent these species were shaped by specific evolutionary forces, adapting them to the unique environment they inhabit.

This genetic diversity is further enhanced by an extremely flexible genome. Mosquitoes have one of the greatest genetic variations in the animal kingdom, allowing them to select more efficient variants and adapt to different environments, even those that change rapidly. This study published in National Library of Medicine researched this specific.

In addition to their remarkable adaptability, mosquitoes benefit from a demographic advantage that is also crucial: their exceptional fertility. A female mosquito can lay several hundred eggs in her lifetime, an impressive number that is accompanied by a short generation period of around ten days on average. In ten days, a mosquito can be born, reach maturity and reproduce. In the insect kingdom, this ability remains quite remarkable.

A harmful insect, but an important role in the ecosystem

A mosquito is a pest, there is no denying that. According to Geo.fr every year this insect kills 800,000 people a year. ” By comparison, this insect kills more people in 24 hours than a shark does in 100 years. “. Think about the next time you’re swimming with a shark and put things into perspective!

However, they occupy a special place in the balance of natural ecosystems and they contribute to maintaining the food chain and biodiversity. An essential prey item for many predators, mosquitoes are a vital food source for a wide variety of animal species. Dragonflies, adept at aerial hunting, track these flying insects with impressive precision. The bats detect them with their sophisticated sonar and catch them in mid-flight, devouring hundreds of mosquitoes a night.

However, they are not just prey! Even mosquitoes participate to the good health of aquatic ecosystems. Their larvae play a vital role in the degradation of organic matter present in the water. By feeding on microorganisms and plant residues, they contribute to water purification and maintaining its ecological balance.

If we often (rightly) revile the female mosquito for her bite, we must not forget that this insect it can also play a positive role in the pollination of some plants. In search of nectar to fuel their flight, they involuntarily transport pollen from one flower to another, thereby promoting the reproduction of those plants. Males and females actually feed on nectar (a sweet liquid produced by flowers) before the egg-laying season.

Thus, mosquito invasion is a complex phenomenon that can be explained by a combination of environmental and human factors. Controlling these pests remains essential to public health, but must be done in a sensible manner. Their complete disappearance could cause unexpected cascading negative effects, some of which directly affect us. However, do not hesitate to break them in your hands if you have the opportunity, it will not change much and you will sleep peacefully.

  • The overpopulation of mosquitoes is explained by environmental and human factors.
  • These insects are little jewels of evolution, corrupted by a genome that allows them to adapt very easily.
  • They are not simple pests, but also play a positive role in maintaining natural ecosystems.

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