Ask A Limnologist: Are There Any Mosquitoes In Iceland? - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Ask A Limnologist: Are There Any Mosquitoes In Iceland?

Ask A Limnologist: Are There Any Mosquitoes In Iceland?

Published June 30, 2017

Photos by
Department of Foreign Affairs/ Creative Commons

Professor Gísli Már Gíslason, Professor of Limnology (the study of lakes and fresh water) at the University of Iceland, explains:

“Mosquitoes are not found in Iceland, though they are common in neighbouring countries like Greenland. In Britain for example, there are 32 species. We are still not sure why mosquitoes are absent in Iceland. All of the conditions that they need to live here are present. I once found a specimen on board an Icelandair plane at Keflavík airport which had come in from Greenland. It’s known that mosquitoes can survive in aircraft landing gear for many hours, even where the temperature gets as low as -50°C.

“There are a few reasons why mosquitoes might not have colonised Iceland. Perhaps they have not yet reached Icelandic waters from the planes they are carried by. Once they land in the water, perhaps they have not found a place to lay their eggs. But as I have explained, specimens can survive for hours on end. The reason why mosquitoes are absent probably has something to do with the climate. Icelandic winters are variable. There can be a sudden rise in temperature in the middle of winter with a thaw, then the temperature will drop again. These are unfavourable conditions for adult mosquitoes.

“We can be concerned about climate change. With global warming, Iceland may not be mosquito-free forever. A warming planet means the insects could have a better chance of reproducing, without the cold weather getting in their way.”

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