- Thomson Reuters
Visit Denmark, Greenland, Scotland, or Norway, and you’re bound to encounter at least one Draculaic pest.
In nearby Iceland, not so.
The tiny country is among a handful of others that claim no mosquito population whatsoever.
That is, unless you count the one that has lived in a jar of alcohol at the Icelandic Institute of Natural History ever since the 1980s, when a scientist captured it in an airplane.
“I chased it around the cabin until I got it,” Gisli Mar Gislason, a University of Iceland biologist, told the New York Times. “It’s the only mosquito I’ve ever found in Iceland.”
There are a couple theories why the nation is mosquito-free.
In much of the Arctic, Greenland especially, there are numerous shallow ponds where mosquitoes lay eggs that hatch into larvae, which eventually become blood-hungry mosquitoes. In Greenland, the insects can get so big that they can take down baby caribou.
Those shallow ponds are important because they are the first to heat up and thaw once the temperature begins to rise.
“The mosquitoes go through their development faster which means there are fewer days to be eaten by a predator,” Dartmouth ecologist Lauren Culler told Motherboard last year. “Lab studies, field studies, and population models show that a warming climate means more mosquitoes survive until adulthood.”
Iceland has no such lakes in which the mosquitoes can breed. And as the Times reports, the country’s ecology is such that its sees three main freezes and thaws throughout the year. Mosquitoes may simply not have enough time to mature in the warmer temperatures before it gets cold again.
In case you needed another reason to be concerned about climate change, scientists suspect that Iceland might not be mosquito-free forever. A warming planet means the insects would have a better chance at reproducing without cold weather getting in the way.
That would drop the list to just three places without mosquitoes: New Caledonia, French Polynesia, and The Seychelles.
For everyone who doesn’t want to move: Invest in repellent.