May 19, 2024

The science: Start the season early: Mosquitoes are already hatching

A warm, humid spring: Mosquito season starts much earlier than usual this year.

Mosquito season starts especially early this year. Forest and meadow mosquitoes are already hatching, Doreen Werner of the Leibniz Center for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) in Mönchberg told German news agency DPA. House mosquitoes that spend the winter in frost-free places have already laid their eggs. The early start of mosquito season is due to the weather, and this often only happens at the beginning of May. “It happened three or four weeks ago this year.”

Mosquitoes need moisture and warmth, Werner said. “Things are going well for mosquitoes right now.” The maximum population is usually reached in August, but accurate prediction is difficult. Drought has hurt mosquito populations, because even when it's cold, the larvae don't develop as quickly. “When it's cold and dry, nothing works anymore.”

Werner is also involved in the Mosquito Atlas: In a citizen science project, citizens can help collect scientifically usable data by sending in mosquitoes. For example, data is also being collected on the Asian tiger mosquito, a mosquito species introduced from warmer regions that is now established in some areas of Germany.

Although mosquitoes bother many people, insects and their larvae form an important part of the food web, for example for songbirds, as the German Society for Nature Conservation (Nabo) emphasizes. Spiders, fish, amphibians, and dragonflies also depend on the presence of mosquitoes. The disappearance of mosquitoes from the ecosystem will have serious consequences for a large number of animals.

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