Mosquito bites can be a nuisance especially now warmer weather has arrived. The good news is there’s no evidence to suggest that mosquito numbers in the UK are any higher this year compared to previous years.
There are 34 recorded mosquito species in the UK. Although most bite humans, the most common mosquito in Britain is Culex pipiens, which feeds on the blood of birds, not humans. Unlike the tropics, mosquitoes in this country are not currently known to transmit any infections.
Jolyon Medlock, scientific programme leader with Public Health England’s (PHE’s) Medical Entomology team, said:
Mosquito levels tend to peak in July and August particularly in hot and wet summers. Some species will take advantage of the warm weather and water-filled habitats, like water butts or paddling pools to breed, particularly those without covers that collect leaves.
We encourage good ‘garden husbandry’ in the summer months, by reducing the number of container habitats around the garden. This includes turning upside down buckets, emptying paddling pools that aren’t being used, unblocking drains, and putting lids on water butts.
Jolyon Medlock added:
Given the continued spread of invasive mosquitoes in continental Europe, PHE continue to conduct surveillance at ports of entry, and provide an identification service for nuisance mosquitoes. So far no invasive mosquitoes have been detected in the UK.
While the asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) has been identified as an insect that could potentially arrive in the UK, there have been no confirmed sightings in the UK. This mosquito has been reported but is so far not ‘established’ in either Belgium or the Netherlands. Given the likely import routes it is possible that this mosquito could arrive in the UK.
PHE’s Mosquito Recording Scheme aims to better understand the distribution and ecology of mosquitoes in Britain. The scheme is co-ordinated by the Medical Entomology and Zoonoses Ecology group (MEZE) at PHE Porton in Wiltshire. Members of the public can send mosquito samples in for identification. Find out more information from the Mosquitoes: how to report page or submit a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To avoid mosquito bites this summer:
- cover water butts
- remove leaves and change the water regularly in bird baths and paddling pools
- try to stay indoors when mosquitoes become most active, around dusk and dawn, or use insect repellent if you do need to be outside
- send in any mosquitoes you come across to our recording scheme, as it will help us in our research