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Why Are Mosquitoes More Dangerous with Climate Change?

In this article, we’ll talk about mosquitoes, why they’re dangerous, and why worsening climate change will only make mosquitoes more of a nuisance and overall threat to humans.
Green News
2023-08-24T00:00:00.000Z
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Everyone already hates mosquitoes, especially in humid summer climates where they tend to thrive and cover us in bites that we have to refrain from itching – but did you know that mosquitoes can be more dangerous than they already are as climate change persists?

In this article, we’ll talk about mosquitoes, why they’re dangerous, and why worsening climate change will only make mosquitoes more of a nuisance and overall threat to humans.

What are mosquitoes?

Mosquitoes are little insects, belonging to the Culicidae family, who are known for their slender bodies and long legs – and most of all, for biting humans. They are found all over the world, but not in colder regions. Mosquitoes often thrive in warm and humid climates, as they are attracted to water and often breed more easily in dap areas.

👉 Did you know? It’s female mosquitoes that feed off of the blood of humans and animals – not all mosquitoes are causing you to itch like crazy in the summer! 

The life cycle of mosquitoes has four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult – where female mosquitoes will then lay their areas where water is abundant so that they can hatch. If the mosquitoes are female, they seek blood to acquire proteins to properly develop their eggs. Male mosquitoes will eat nectar and plant juices, and often leave humans and other animals alone.

moisquito on leaf

Mosquitoes thrive during dawn and dusk, as it enables them to fly better. They are most attracted to body heat and various chemicals produced by human activity. This is the reason why many people usually wake up covered in mosquito bites, as mosquitoes are attracted to the body heat emitted while humans sleep.

Mosquitoes are often nothing more than an annoyance and are treated like “pests” to humans – but while swatting away mosquitoes may be what humans prefer, the ecosystem may think differently. This is because mosquitoes serve as pollinators, much like bees, which help to keep plant species thriving. In fact, mosquitoes help to provide biomass in the food chain – as fish will eat mosquitoes, and help to support other important pollinators.

However, while mosquitoes do play a role in ecosystems – they also have a few caveats that shouldn’t be ignored.

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Why are mosquitoes bad for us?

Unbeknownst to most, there are over 3,500 different species of mosquitoes – many of which won’t even go after human blood as the areas they dwell in won’t be populated by people, or they would prefer the blood of other animals. 

👉 Did you know? Mosquitoes bite some people more often than they bite others due to blood type, the scent of their sweat, and if they have a higher body heat – as mosquitoes are attracted to warmth.

However, when mosquitoes do go after human blood – it isn’t pretty. 

This is because mosquitoes are often carriers for various diseases that could have a negative impact on humans and animals. Some, but not all, mosquitoes may transmit viruses, bacteria, or parasites that could cause serious illnesses such as dengue fever, Zika virus, West Nile virus, yellow fever, or malaria

One of the diseases mosquitoes can carry, malaria, is a serious illness that can cause high fevers, chills, and other flu like symptoms. If it isn’t treated immediately, malaria can be fatal – demonstrating how mosquitoes have the power to kill.

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👉 Did you know? There are still around 2,000 cases of malaria diagnosed in the U.S. every year – but malaria is most common in Africa, Asia, and parts of South America.

ants on dirt

Seeing as mosquitoes still carry many fatal illnesses, measures have been taken to try and control the population of mosquitoes. For example, travelers are recommended or sometimes required to take the necessary vaccines before traveling to countries where transmission of parasites, viruses, and bacteria are most likely. 

Other measures in attempts to control the population of mosquitoes include using mosquito repellents, natural mosquito deterrents such as oils or laundry detergent sheets, installing screens into windows, wearing long-sleeve clothing, and preventing from leaving standing water anywhere (such as leaving dishes in the sink filled with water, as mosquitoes will be attracted to these areas). 

Some areas of the world, depending on how likely the transmission of mosquito-based diseases and pathogens are, will seek to conduct mosquito monetization to continuously find new ways to mitigate the transmission of mosquito-based diseases. 

cape town, south africa

What is the relationship between mosquitoes and climate change?

It’s easy to think that something like the population of mosquitoes has nothing to do with climate change   — but think again.

Many of the environmental problems we face today like climate change, deforestation, and urbanization facilitate the outbreaks of numerous diseases carried by mosquitoes: such as dengue fever, the Zika virus and chikungunya around the world. 

How exactly is the rise of the possibly fatal viruses carried by mosquitoes linked to climate change?

Seeing as mosquitoes are most likely to thrive in tropical climates, climate change could help mosquitoes to re-populate faster – increasing the chances of humans being infected by one of the diseases they carry. Climate change has made many regions of the world warmer and more humid than usual, and as a result– so have the cases of mosquito illnesses, such as dengue fever – which have had 5.2 million reported cases in 2019.

👉 Illnesses like dengue fever, carried by mosquitoes, would not be increasing as dramatically as they currently are if it weren't for climate change creating warmer, more humid climates for mosquitoes to thrive in. 

The problem, especially with globalization, is that these mosquito diseases are being transferred to other countries more easily via travelers: countries t weren’t initially as much of a threat in, but with climate change and warmer temperatures – mosquitoes are ready to set up base in these countries. 

As a result, South American countries like Bolivia, Paraguay, and Peru are experiencing higher cases of these diseases and an overall increase in mosquito populations.

👉 The main problem with climate change and mosquitoes is that climate change gives mosquitoes more opportunities to breed and multiply – creating more chances for mosquitoes to bite humans and for these diseases to become endemic in these countries.

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However, it isn’t just warm and humid climates where mosquitoes flourish – new studies show that mosquitoes can even breed in dry climates: another new abnormal weather predicament that is currently occurring as a result of climate change.

drought conditions

The reason why mosquitoes are more likely to breed in dry climates is because the drought-like weather will make them thirsty – which will then make them want to search for blood, ultimately causing even greater chances of transferring these concerning diseases carried by mosquitoes. 

The bottom line is that whether climate change is causing humid climates to become more muggy or for dry climates to become even more sparse of water – both weather extremes will provide a climate where mosquitoes will be encouraged to repopulate, and ultimately give them greater power to transfer their diseases.

green leaf under sunshinegreen leaf under sunshine

What could mosquitoes do to humans and the world if proper measures aren’t taken to fight against climate change?

If climate change continues to persist, the diseases that mosquitoes carry will continue to increase as the population of mosquitoes grows – and will continue to become endemic in new countries across the world. Particularly, illnesses such as dengue fever and Zika virus are expected to increase as climate conditions continue to worsen at various extremes (increased humidity and dryness). 

As these illnesses continue to skyrocket, healthcare industries across the world and other countries could continue to suffer the effects of climate change – as the increased amount of diseases being transferred from a growing mosquito population could overwhelm the healthcare industries in other countries with a greater need for resources to care for those infected. 

However, the most profound impact that a rising mosquito population could have is how mosquitoes could impact globalization – which is imperative especially for third-world and developing countries. As a result of taking greater efforts to control the diseases, some countries may place travel bans to prevent travelers from regions where illness like dengue fever, malaria, and the Zika virus are more widespread. This potential prohibited travel could wreak havoc, as travel and overall globalization is pivotal as the global economy continues to heal after the Covid-19 pandemic.

airplane landing in mountainous city

Is there a way to prevent mosquitoes from becoming more dangerous?

Clearly, the best way to prevent mosquitoes from multiplying and raising the risk of further illness across the planet is to fight against climate change – something Greenly can help you with.

However, whilst also working to reducing emissions and fighting against global warming – there are more measures that can be taken to prevent mosquitoes from breeding and spreading viruses:

  • Don’t Let Mosquitoes Breed – Standing water is paradise for mosquitoes trying to breed, so it’s best to discard any containers with residue water: such as cups or dishes near the sink, emptying flower pots, and even checking on your drains. All of these help to reduce a potential rise in mosquito population. 
  • Don’t Let Mosquitoes In – Many states in the U.S. have implemented the use of screen nets for their patio doors and windows, used year-round in states like Florida to prevent mosquitoes from ever entering your home. This can prevent them from breeding in your own home or biting you in the first place.
  • Use Mosquito Repellent – Active ingredients such as DEET and picaridin are often found in mosquito repellent sprays in the U.S. and are quite effective at repelling mosquitoes. However, if you prefer to live a more green lifestyle and abstain from the use of chemicals to repel mosquitoes – try citrus, eucalyptus, or lavender oil to repel mosquitoes. 👉(Pro-tip: use an oil diffuser or put some of this oil behind your ear or near other pulse points – so your body heat will no longer be attractive to mosquitoes). 
  • Avoid Mosquito Areas – One of the best ways to prevent something from happening is to not put yourself in the situation for it to happen in the first place. Staying from areas where there are known to be a lot of mosquitoes can help you to never get bit in the first place. If you must go to an area where mosquitoes dwell, be sure to use mosquito repellent and wear light, long-layered clothing. 
  • Government Action – It is also up to public health authorities and local communities to develop tactics to control mosquitoes – such as supporting education and awareness about the diseases associated with mosquitoes and ways to reduce mosquito breeding.
  • Support Research for Control Mosquito Populations – There is always more to learn – especially when it comes to mosquitoes. Setting up the proper funding and financial resources to learn and develop new techniques to prevent mosquitoes from breeding and prevent their diseases is essential to controlling the harmful effects mosquitoes have on humans. 

Ultimately, mosquitoes could grow exponentially in population due to the current extreme weather conditions being present in both humid and dry climate as a result of climate change – and it’s now up to us to take action to reduce both emissions and the chances of mosquitoes spreading their diseases across the globe.

What about Greenly? 

If reading this article about mosquitoes and why they are more dangerous with climate change has made you interested in reducing your carbon emissions to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

Figuring out the most effective types of renewable energy to use for your company can be confusing, but don’t worry – Greenly is here to help. Click here to schedule a demo to see how Greenly can help you find ways to improve energy efficiency and decrease the dependency on fossil fuels in your own company. 

Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces.

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