Column: Are mosquitoes on the rise thanks to climate change?
Columnist Kirsty-Jo Muddiman explores the pests mosquitoes and their increase in her village Auckley increasing due to increasing tempretures.
I thought it was just me.
I have always attracted mosquitoes and in my family, I’m usually the one that gets the most bites whenever there are mosquitoes around.
This is my first summer back in Auckley since moving away 22 years ago and gosh there have been a lot of mosquitoes.
So many that I contacted the council, Yorkshire Water and Severn Trent Water, even the Airport who have their own sewage treatment works, to try to find out where these critters are breeding.
No luck there. A neighbour came to ask about fly screens (my husband is in pest control) because of their mosquito problem and this made me realise it was the whole street, not just my house.
I’m not being dramatic, there can be 50 mosquitos in my house on a bad day and it’s making the summer quite miserable.
“It’s just like chickenpox,” my daughter commented.
Our side of the village is not alone.
A Facebook post from the other side of the village confirms that Auckley is experiencing
a mosquito infestation and the 46 replies confirmed that it’s a wide-spread issue.
The mosquitoes aren’t picky either, one of my Jack Russell’s is getting snacked on just as much as me!
A study from the Emergency Response Department, Public Health England, Porton Down, concluded in 2015, that climate change could see malaria back in the UK by 2030.
The UK regularly saw cases of malaria in the 1800s and still has native species capable of harbouring the disease.
Scary to think that in just 11 years’ time, the Auckley mosquitoes might be more than just an irritation to the skin.
Dealing with a mosquito infestation is tricky.
It’s not something you can solve on your own when the problem is this widespread, and when the council reply is that “this is not something our environmental health team can assist with” it’s difficult to know who to turn to.
All we can do is look at local prevention and treatment of bites but when local reports seem to indicate that the species in question is a grass-breeding kind which can over-winter, this is not a problem likely to just go away by emptying out buckets and making sure our water butts are covered.
A wet period in warm weather will result in a mosquito increase in a matter of days.
There are some plants which are said to repel mosquitos, their essential oil can be applied to the skin in a diluted form (check the label!) and the plants themselves may deter mosquitoes from your garden.
The bonus is that some of these plants are great herbs to have in your garden anyway.
Keeping a small herb garden in a window could prevent mosquitoes in the house (though I am yet to be convinced).
Try rosemary, lemon verbena (great in a G&T), Basil, Lavender, Mint (think Mojito) or Sage.Not just herbs though, Marigolds contain chemicals called thiopenes which are the building blocks of many modern pesticides.
These thiopenes make marigolds the plant of choice for “beneficial planting”, a practice where rows of crop plants, such as tomatoes are bordered by marigolds as a natural insecticide or insect repellent.
Marrigolds are also said to repel mosquitoes so next year, let’s see if we can make the humble marigold the border flower of choice in Auckley!