Warmer waters give Arctic mosquitoes a growth spurt

Arctic mosquitoes with pencil

Arctic mosquitoes develop more quickly in warmer water, a new study suggests.

Lauren Culler

Warmer water makes Arctic mosquitoes (Aedes nigripes) grow faster, Dartmouth College researchers report September 16 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. In the lab, mosquito larvae developed about 10 percent quicker with every 1-degree Celsius increase in temperature. Though warmer surroundings also increased the growth of predatory beetle larvae (Colymbetes dolabratus), the mosquitoes’ growth spurt cut their time as vulnerable larvae and outweighed the effect of more active predators.

Out on Greenland’s tundra, the bloodsuckers emerged from larval ponds around two weeks earlier in 2012 than in 2011 as a result of earlier ice melt — just in time to chow down on newly born caribou calves, the team found. In the Arctic, mosquitoes play multiple roles from pests to pollinators, and warming temperatures could profoundly impact their local ecology, the researchers suggest. 

On Greenland’s tundra, mosquitoes hatched and emerged earlier when ponds thawed earlier, researchers report. Lauren Culler

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