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Mosquito alert: UK weather providing ideal breeding ground for biting insects – University of Reading

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Mosquito alert: UK weather providing ideal breeding ground for biting insects

Release Date 30 April 2018

Close up of a mosquito

The UK mosquito season is beginning in earnest thanks to the recent combination of warm and wet weather, a scientist has warned.

Recent record-breaking hot temperatures in the south of England were followed by downpours. A University of Reading expert says this has provided ideal conditions for the flying insects to lay eggs.

Dr Amanda Callaghan said: “Mosquitoes are present for around six to seven months of the year but we often begin to notice them in April, particularly if we have had warm weather. Female mosquitoes can lay more than 200 eggs at a time, so it’s no wonder we quickly notice when their numbers increase.

“If you live in an urban area, thankfully the mosquitoes breeding in your pond or water butt will most probably bite the birds in your garden rather than you.”

Mosquitoes lay their eggs in areas of standing water after mating. Fully formed female insects feed on the blood of birds or mammals, including humans, in order to feed their developing eggs, leaving itchy bite marks. Male mosquitoes live on plant nectar and fruit juice.

To avoid attracting mosquitoes into your garden, Dr Callaghan advises against using pond dyes, as research carried out at the University of Reading shows this can attract even more of the flying insects. “Mosquitoes love dark water and black pond dyes are irresistible to female mosquitoes,” she said.

Members of the public can spot eggs laid by mosquitoes in water such as ponds, garden pots or sometimes even pet water bowls. Dr Callaghan said the black eggs are laid in batches that look like small black pumpkin seeds floating at the edge of the container. Unwanted eggs can be removed by draining the water or prevented by making sure any water butts have lids.

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