If you have ventured into the great outdoors at any point during the summer, you may notice dozens or so of unwanted guests lounging about- mosquitoes. This year, mosquito populations are on the rise, even in areas who had previously seen less concerning amounts of mosquitos.
Infamously known for causing many modern ailments, from mild itching and rashes to whole epidemics of viruses, mosquitoes are public enemy number one when it comes to outdoor activities. So where did they all come from?
Female mosquitoes reproduce by laying eggs on still bodies of water, making areas such as puddles, outdoor tanks, muddy grass, broken sprinklers, or runoff from the street, function as incubation centers for future generation of mosquitos. These sources of water are leftover from unusual weather patterns, such as the storms displayed this year, as California alone experienced chilly springs and even storms in early summer.
This year’s outlier in rainfall contrasts against the extreme drought that California had been facing before, and it severely impacts the ecosystems found within pockets of California. Aspects such as temperature play a large role in the health of such areas. Years of drought and dry weather causes the dirt or soil to dry out and harden, making it less likely to absorb water. This creates poor drainage for water to be reunited with the groundwater systems and aquifers. As a result, the water remains on the surface and collects into puddles scattered over streets and sidewalks, which act as open breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
Perhaps more urgently, the lingering water problem also serves as an indicator to outdated infrastructure. In addition to the all-too-familiar pattern of rising temperature, many urban areas across the United States fall into something known as the “urban heat island phenomenon.” This can be summarized as areas of development that are made out of materials such as asphalt or concrete, that trap and radiate heat back into the air. This effect is worsened without green matter such as trees or grasses that inversely, are extremely efficient at dissipating heat and cooling down the air.
Yet, you would think that increased heat aids in the evaporation of the aforementioned bodies of water, though it is not the case. Rather, warm wet environments are the perfect conditions for bacteria, mold, and diseases to thrive.
The ever growing presence of mosquitoes this season should be read as yet another warning of the growing climate issue. When the humid climates experienced by countries near the equator start moving north, we will start to face many of the same issues.
Even a quick glance at headline news from countries with a tropical climate such as Libya or the Philippines , can predict some of the issues we are already facing. Extreme weather conditions, not limited to wildfires, hurricanes, tropical storms, or massive earthquakes