Beware! Mosquitoes will be exceptionally plentiful around Finland this summer
Late winter provided good conditions for mosquito larvae
When retired entomologist Juhani Itämies predicts that we are likely to have a very good mosquito summer, his choice of words means that in terms of bloodsuckers the upcoming summer is likely to be a fierce battle.
The former curator of the Oulu University Museum is regarded as Finland’s foremost mosquito expert.
Last winter, a lot of snow was found in many places around Finland, as anyone who was here can attest.
According to Itämies, this was important for mosquitoes, as in late spring, the snowdrifts left small puddles, creating good breeding grounds for mosquito larvae.
”Particularly in the southern province of Uusimaa, this summer the mosquito population may be even larger than last summer”, Itämies warns. Uusimaa was indeed blessed with a great deal of snow.
”However, it is not possible to give any exact mosquito forecast, as there is no accurate monitoring system”, Itämies notes.
Itämies says that in addition to last winter’s good snow situation, in the south there is more arable land and sub-surface drainage than in the north. These are also bound to provide good conditions for mosquito larvae.
Particularly in the inland areas, mosquitoes are protected against Helsinki’s coastal winds. This is also the situation in the municipality of Mäntsälä, some 40 kilometres away from Helsinki.
”There are a lot of mosquitoes now. This summer is turning out to be a worse one for mosquitoes than last year”, contemplates Jari Nuutinen, standing in the yard of his detached house in Mäntsälä.
”In the evening, one cannot wear shorts outdoors, as the insects are queueing up at the door. The situation will certainly get worse in the course of the summer”, describes Nuutinen, while fixing up his boat together with his 7-year-old son Vili Klemola.
Vili has a little more peculiar experience of these bloodsucking pests.
”One mosquito flew into my mouth yesterday. I spat it out”, the boy says, recounting his bicycle trip on Friday and promising to slap dead the annoying insects pestering him.
Another kind of attitude towards the insects is also represented in Mäntsälä.
”They do not do much harm, and after all, mosquitoes belong to the summer. At the summer cottage, the situation could be much worse”, asserts Tuomas Touru, who is having a walk with his daughter Mia Touru, 2 years, and their dog Asterix.
Touru's bold understatement is weakened only by a large red spot on his daughter’s cheek.
"A mosquito bite”, her father admits.
It promises to be a bloody summer all round.
FACTFILE: The humid spring was favourable for mosquito larvae
There are more than 40 species of mosquitoes in Finland.The most common bloodsucker found in the south of Finland is the woodland floodwater mosquito (Aedes communis).
Traditionally, the country’s largest mosquito population appears in Lapland, where marshes are favourable breeding grounds, and legends persist of mosquitoes so large that they carry cabin crew or can be dried out and made into sauna benches.
Adult females lay hundreds of eggs in standing water, which can be puddles, marshes, or water containers such as barrels and buckets standing in the yard.
Mosquitoes have the ability to sense the presence of a human being from a distance of up to 100 metres, by detecting the victim’s sweat and carbon dioxide.
Only female mosquitoes are capable of drinking blood from mammals.
Mosquitoes can live for three to four weeks.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Mosquitoes emerge three weeks ahead of schedule (8.6.2007)
Rainy and warm weather brought exceptionally large numbers of mosquitos this summer (25.8.2005)