TIME Environment

These Giant Arctic Bloodsuckers Are Thriving On Global Warming

Arctic Mosquitos
Lauren Culler—REUTERS A Dartmouth photos shows mosquitoes in this image released on Sept. 15, 2015.

Climate change is a boon for mosquitoes

There are a lot of environmental changes occurring as the planet warms: melting ice caps, rising sea levels, heat waves, you name it. But perhaps the most terrifying of all is that climate change is boosting swarms of giant arctic mosquitoes.

The warmer temperatures are causing the mosquitoes to emerge earlier and grow larger, researchers at Dartmouth found. This could hurt the caribou population the insects feed on by forcing the animals to spend more time avoiding the insects and less time raising their young or storing nutrients for the winter.

“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,” the Dartmouth press release explains. “The calving season benefits mosquitoes by giving them a larger, less mobile herd to feed on, including vulnerable calves.”

Average temperatures in the Arctic have increased at twice the global rate in the past 100 years, and this study predicts that if temperatures in the region rise 2 degrees Celsius, the mosquitoes’ probability of survival will increase by more than 50%.

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