The British checklist of Diptera (True Flies) records 7224 species from Britain (Dipterists Digest, July 2021). The order Diptera contains 109 families including the Culicidae (Mosquitoes). More than 3500 species worldwide belong to the family Culicidae, of which 35 species are currently known from Britain. The females of at least 27 of the British species will bite humans frequently.
All immature stages of mosquitoes develop in water. Most require standing water, though some species can breed in very slow moving water. The size of their breeding habitat can range from animal footprints, tree holes, small man-made containers, to large industrial premises such as sewage treatment works, but all need to have water. Most species need relatively clean water, but a few utilise brackish or saltwater, while all species of the genus Culex prefer water with high organic content. Most British species prefer rural habitats and only a few species occur in urban areas, though this is of little consolation to those who suffer from their presence. The type of standing water in which the female mosquito chooses to lay her eggs depends upon the species. The presence of beneficial predators such as fish and dragonfly nymphs in permanent ponds, lakes and streams, usually keep these bodies of water relatively free of mosquito larvae. However, portions of marshes, clogged ditches and temporary pools and puddles are all prolific mosquito breeding sites.
Some species, such as the human biting Culex pipiens biotype molestus, need to continually breed to survive and in southern Britain they do this by utilising heated underground sites. A puddle caused by a leaking boiler or flooding due to excessive rainfall e.g., in industrial premises such as sewage treatment works, hospitals, the underground transport system and breweries, are all ideal winter breeding sites.
Every year, over one million people worldwide die from mosquito-borne disease. These include Malaria, Dengue fever, Yellow fever, Chikungunya virus, Zika virus, Japanese encephalitis and West Nile virus. Malaria, one of the world’s biggest killer diseases, is probably the most well-known of all the diseases associated with mosquitoes. The African region continues to carry a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2020 the region was home to 95% of all malaria cases and 96% of deaths. Children under 5 years of age accounted for about 80% of all malaria deaths in the region (World Health Organisation, 2021). It is fortunately not endemic to the UK, although cases of malaria are reported and treated in the UK every year, mostly due to the ease of foreign travel.
As the UK’s climate continues to change the potential for invasive species, such as the Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes albopictus), to gain a foothold here increases, which could in turn allow indigenous species to increase and spread further afield. A knock-on effect is that this may also lead to an increase in the risk of contact and spread of serious disease. Taking all of these factors, and others, into consideration, it is clear that the threat from emerging diseases in the UK is very real and should not be underestimated.
Good detection, surveillance and control measures are therefore essential to ensure the UK doesn’t succumb to mosquito-borne diseases and the heartache it can cause communities. Bioguard have extensive experience of professional mosquito control and provide a comprehensive control service including site assessments, entomological audits and detailed control programmes.