Is there a connection between mosquito control and climate change? Can global warming affect the activity of mosquitoes between late fall and early spring? Are you in danger of being bitten by mosquitoes in December, even though they should be hibernating? Can any of these questions be answered definitively and without argument?
The answer to all of these questions appears to be yes – other than the last! Global warming leads to climate change. If it did not, then the world’s leaders would not be attending summits to tackle the matter. The fact that they do leads us to the assumption that there is an issue. If that is the case, and global warming is gradually increase the temperature of the planet, then we may also have an issue with mosquitoes.
These insects are normally active in warm climates, and their activity tends to slow down with decreasing ambient temperature. In fact, 50F (10C) appears to be their shut-off point. Once the ambient temperature reaches this point, then mosquitoes become inactive. Some appear to go into a state of hibernation, while others just hide in foliage, around drain covers and downpipes and anywhere else where they can become invisible to predators.
Mosquito Activity and Temperature
So, let’s hypothesize for a while. Let’s say the ambient temperature during a few days in December increases to above 50F – let’s say 55. Will mosquitoes then become active? The answer is yes – and no! Let’s look at that closer. Some species of mosquito simply die off in the winter months while other lay eggs and then die off, leaving the eggs ready to hatch come spring. There are others, such as the Anopheles, Culex and Culiseta genera that enter a state of hibernation, waiting for spring before they become active again.
Some species, such as the Culex that carries the West Nile virus, can enter a state of semi-hibernation where it can become active again should the temperature rise above 50 degrees. These would likely be amongst the first types of mosquitoes that would become active in winter should global warming and climate change lead to increased winter temperatures. That said, they might not awake from their rest for just one day of warmth. There is insufficient evidence to say this – but better safe than sorry!
Atlanta Temperature Records
Since 1980, the warmest minimum ambient temperature and the coldest maximum in Atlanta Georgia (the worst city in the USA for mosquito infestation) have increased by up to 40%. There is a clear indication from meteorological records and studies that global warming is leading to higher winter temperatures. It may not be long until December temperatures are regularly suitable for mosquito activity.
According to the experts, and to anecdotal information, there appears to be a general increase in ambient temperatures from late fall to early spring. This is sure to have an effect on mosquito activity and populations. Should you be taking action now to protect yourself from early mosquito activity this winter? Perhaps, and given that the West Nile and other viruses carried by mosquitoes can be so deadly, particularly to children and pets, then maybe you should plan for this.
Not everyone will agree, but who will stand up and state that this will not happen? That there is no relationship between mosquito control and global warming? That climate change is a myth, so don’t take early steps to protect your children? Anybody? No? I didn’t think so!
Mosquito Control and Climate Change: What Actions to Take?
Now may be the time to begin planning for spring – not after the Holidays are over. Plan to get your yard and your home protected now, then you can relax knowing that if there is a particularly warm winter this year your family will not suffer. A mosquito misting system will protect your yard from attack from the outside. A mosquito spray will help reduce populations of these insects that are already in your yard.
The relationship between mosquito control and global warming might not worry you now, but it might later on the first warm winter’s day! Make sure you have no standing water in your yard, and that your drains and guttering are all clean cleared of debris such as fallen leaves. These are ideal hiding places for mosquitoes over winter – on warm and freezing cold days!