In many parts of the world, mosquitoes annoy people during the summer months, but new research from the University of Florida shows that climate change may make these intruders a common problem in all seasons.
According to News i and quoted by York Alert, “There are mosquitoes all year round in the tropics, but not in other parts of the world,” said Brett Scheffers, lead researcher and associate professor of environment and wildlife conservation at the University of Florida. Outside of the tropics, mosquitoes hibernate in the winter. Climate change is expected to make summers longer and winters shorter, and the question is, what effect will these changes have on mosquitoes?
To find out, researchers conducted an experiment using mosquitoes collected from a Florida city. The findings are published in the journal Ecology.
The researchers collected mosquitoes at different times of the year and compared the mosquitoes’ response to temperature changes.
“We found that the temperature that different species of mosquitoes could withstand varied at different times of the year,” says Scheffers.
The researchers found that in the spring, when the night temperature is cool and the daytime temperature is rising, mosquitoes can withstand a wide range of temperatures. In summer, as the weather warms, this wide range decreases.
This indicates that with the warming of autumn and winter due to climate change, mosquitoes that have been in temperate regions can easily operate in these seasons.
“Our results show that to better understand how mosquitoes tolerate temperature, we need to collect them at different times of the year and measure their response to different temperatures,” says Brunno Oliveira, lead author of the paper.
This information helps us to provide a more accurate range of tolerable temperatures for a species of mosquito.
The researchers collected mosquitoes from more than 70 different areas for the experiment. Using carbon dioxide gas, which is a sign of food for mosquitoes, they collected 28,000 mosquitoes representing 18 different species and randomly examined 1,000 mosquitoes in the laboratory.
They put each mosquito in a vial and put it in water. Over time, the researchers changed the water temperature and examined the activity of the mosquitoes.
“It was amazing to see the ability of these little creatures to withstand high temperatures,” says Gécica Yogo, one of the authors of the article. Most of them tolerated temperatures above the average ambient temperature.
Researchers still do not know how mosquitoes adapt to rapid temperature changes.
“Most people are not aware that natural selection can affect short-lived animals too quickly,” says Daniel Hahn, co-author of the article.
Researchers say their research helps prepare communities for the effects of climate change. The increase in mosquitoes due to climate change causes the spread of the disease in humans and animals.
“People who live near mosquito habitats can play an important role in controlling the mosquito population,” says co-author Peter Jiang. They must empty or cover any tank, container or place containing water.
“When it comes to climate change, we often talk about changing the habitat of species, but climate change can also change the species that live next to us, and that’s another aspect of the problem that needs to be addressed,” says Scheffers.