Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The mosquito coast

There is a furtive quality to adult mosquitoes, unlovely and fidgety.  They do not inspire affection, instead a sense of nuisance and recoil, as if they set out wantonly to persecute us, worse still to spread disease. Autumn is a time they seem more obvious, conjured out of the gloom which their colours and manner match. They are, at least, an insect we pay attention to. The Health Protection Agency has revamped a Mosquito Recording Scheme, partly out of concern at the surprisingly little we know about the distribution of species in the UK but also the possible arrival of new species, part of a wave of continental insects whose very delicate fragility is no hindrance to being wafted across the North Sea. The wetlands and pools along Druridge Bay and along the whole Northumberland coast offer attractive habitats to the discerning mosquito, and they do discern. The females of some species in search of somewhere to lay eggs are able to sense the presence of predators or competitors and so move on in search of more promising sites. Along the Bay Anopheles claviger and Culiseta morsitans are common but I have not searched in any systematic way letalone some of the more brackish sites. Further north at Low Newton I’ve found larvae that appear to be Anopheles algeriensis , Aedes cantans and Culiseta litorea, the latter much further north than other UK records. The squirming shoals of mosquito larvae in the Druridge Dune slacks,  and further north along our coast, hint at a new invasion shoreline and would be well worth an expedition to record our mosquito infested swamps. Here is the HPA mosquito Recording Scheme website. (

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