The Arctic's Big Mosquito Problem Is Getting a Lot Worse

By R. Siva Kumar - 16 Sep '15 12:41PM

When the Arctic warms up, the mosquitoes begin to buzz over the land, according to nationalgeographic.

"It is the talk of the town when the Arctic mosquitoes are out," says Lauren Culler, a postdoctoral researcher who studies insects in Greenland for Dartmouth College's Institute of Arctic Studies. "There aren't a lot of animals for them to eat in the Arctic, so when they finally find one, they are ferocious. They are relentless. They do not stop. They just keep going after you."

With global warming, things can only get worse, according to new research.

While large, blood-sucking mosquitoes pester people, caribou, reindeer, and other mammals, mosquitoes above the Arctic Circle become worse, according to Culler's new research, which was published Tuesday in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

With the climate warming by just 2 degrees Celsius, the possibility of juvenile mosquitoes may increase by 53 percent. These are not like tropical mosquitoes, and do not carry human diseases.

"It was really when the pond thawed that triggered the hatch," Culler says. "That's not unexpected. Lots of biology is triggered by these melting events."

When swarms of mosquitoes attack caribou, they flee and stop eating---which results in a drop in their population.

The mosquitoes go through various life stages. "The faster they go through these life stages, the better off they are," Culler says. "If you're only exposed for 20 days instead of 24, that's good for you. That's four days you don't have to worry about being eaten."

That's just the beginning.

Jokingly called "Alaska's state bird", it is possible for the entire swarm to assault a living being. "You can be completely covered in a matter of seconds," Culler says.

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