Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag

Animals

The reason for the non-existence of mosquitoes in Iceland

By Staff

  • Not in Iceland Why are those horrible flies not found in Iceland, while being common in neighbouring countries?

One of the most positive things about Iceland is that mosquitoes are not found here. That’s something we can be very grateful about, as those small flies are by far the most deadly animals on earth, spreading diseases that kill around 830.000 humans every year in Africa, South America, Central America, Mexico and much of Asia. In other temperate and developed countries, mosquito bites have in recent decades mostly been an irritating nuisance but still causing some deaths each year.

With last year’s widespread outbreak of the Zika virus the focus is back on mosquitoes in areas that had previously gotten rid of mosquito-borne illnesses. Many areas in the United States have for example the type of mosquitoes that can spread the virus.

At least that is something we don’t have to worry about in Iceland.

The intriguing question is why are mosquitoes not found in Iceland, while being common in neighbouring countries?

According to The Icelandic Web of Science (IWOS) there are two types in Greenland, 28 types in Norway and Britain and 41 species can be found in the neighbouring countries to the East of Iceland.

Read more: Are there midges in Iceland?

The reason for the non-existence of mosquitoes in Iceland, explains IWOS, is probably to be found in these Icelandic conditions:

“In Greenland and Northern Scandinavia, the [mosquito] pupa hibernates beneath ice during the winter, and hatches as a fly as soon as the ice melts. This happens in spring, as polar winters are continuous. Icelandic winters are variable. There can be a sudden rise in temperature in the middle of winter, with a thaw, then the temperature will drop again.

Under these conditions the pupa would hatch. The mosquito would then need to find prey from which to suck blood, then it would need several days for the eggs to mature, to meet a mate and lay the eggs in a pond or marsh. Changes in climate in Iceland are so rapid that the mosquito does not have sufficient time to complete its lifecycle. Under these conditions the pupa would not be mature when temperatures dropped again and ice formed on the ponds.”

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