Climate change is doing more than just causing heat waves and melting ice caps. It looks like the warmer temperatures in the Arctic are causing mosquitoes to appear earlier and grow larger, according to researchers at Dartmouth and a study published in the e journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.
The blood-sucking insects are multiplying too quickly. The warmer weather makes it easier for the mosquitoes to grow at a faster rate in ponds that form during the spring due to melting snow in the tundra.
Mosquitoes are starting to bother the caribou by forcing the animals to spend more time trying to steer clear of them and less time storing food for the winter or raising their young, Time reports. An ecologist from New Hampshire’s Dartmouth College said that caribou are running toward the top of windy ridges where the food is less adequate in order to escape the biting insects.
“Arctic mosquitoes’ reproductive success depends on the females finding a blood meal, which is expected to increase because warming more closely synchronizes their life cycle with caribou calving,” a Dartmouth press release said. Female mosquitoes bite animals because they need the blood to produce their eggs.
The Dartmouth press release also revealed that “the calving season benefits mosquitoes by giving them a larger, less mobile herd to feed on, including vulnerable calves.”
Scientists also said that if more adult mosquitoes swarm the arctic, the overall intensity of harassment the insect will have on the animals living in the area will increase, Times Gazette reports. Therefore, the warming of the Arctic could not only harm the wild caribou, but the sustainability of reindeer in Sweden, Norway, northwest Russia and Finland. Reindeer are an important resource for the local communities, researchers said.
In the Arctic, average temperatures have increased at twice the global rate in the past century. Researchers’ studies of mosquitoes near Kangerlussuaq, Greenland caused them to predict that if temperatures rise 3.6 degrees, the mosquitoes will have 50 percent more of a chance of surviving, according to Times Gazette.