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The season for mosquitoes comes back

2023.06.23 01:09:23 Catrina Cho
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[Mosquito. Photo Credit to PxHere]

As the heat of summer gradually peaks, mosquitoes are already appearing.

The population of mosquitoes usually increases from mid-July, however, as the average temperature of this month has been higher than in past years, the population is expected to rise earlier than usual.

Due to the rise in population, the number of patients who received a definite diagnosis of malaria this year was 144, which was 3.7 times higher than the previous average.

This is because the premature heat accelerated mosquitoes’ growth rates and activities.

KDCA (Kora Disease Control and Prevention Agency) had alerted Japanese encephalitis warning three weeks earlier than last year. Gyeonggi-do had sent a Malaria alert to Paju City and Gimpo City for the first time.

According to experts, the most appropriate temperature for mosquitoes to be active is between 25℃ to 27℃.

However, conditions such as heavy rain, drought, or in temperatures over 30℃ reduce the activities of mosquitoes.

Therefore, mosquitoes are more likely to be active in early summer and early autumn, rather than midsummer.

Dongkyu Lee, a professor at the Division of Health & Environment at Kosin University, explained that in the past, mosquitoes were traditionally prevalent in July and August.

However, in the last 5 years, due to climate change, mosquitoes have started to be active in June, July, and September. In other words, global warming has accelerated the time period of mosquitoes starting their activities.

This is especially concerning as mosquitoes are the most representative harmful insects.

When mosquitoes feed on blood, they swallow viruses or parasites in human blood.

These viruses and parasites then get transferred through mosquitoes’ saliva, to the next person the mosquito bites.

Any kind of disease that is spread in this way from mosquitoes is also known as a ‘mosquito-borne disease.’

Malaria, dengue, West Nile virus, chikungunya, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, and Zika are types of mosquito-borne diseases.

Last year, one million died due to these diseases.

This is the reason why many scientists are working on mosquito eradication in order to protect the human race.

For example, WMP (World Mosquito Program) announced that in efforts to reduce the number of dengue patients, they will be releasing five billion infertile mosquitoes every year from 2024.

Infertile mosquitoes are mosquitoes that can not reproduce anymore, after being infected by Wolbachia bacteria.

If mosquitoes that are infected by Wolbachia bacteria feed on the blood of dengue patients, the dengue virus does not transfer into the mosquito’s body.

Moreover, Wolbachia bacteria transfer during mating, and eggs that were produced by it do not hatch.

As another example, there are gene manipulations for mosquito eradication.

Oxitec, a British Biotechnology enterprise, had released five million male Aegypti mosquito eggs, which had manipulated genes.

Mosquitoes with manipulated genes die before turning into adult insects.

And it is Oxitec’s plan for mosquitoes not to be able to survive as the numbers of offspring decrease.

However, even with the human race’s continued efforts and attempts, mosquitoes do not seem to decrease.

110 trillion is the estimated number of mosquitoes in the world.

This is because mosquitoes have outstanding reproducing ability and adaptive ability.

However, this is partially our responsibility.

Global warming, which is mainly due to human activities, has increased the average temperature, resulting in a prolonged mosquito activity period.

Global warming has an impact on the mosquito population and global efforts are needed to mitigate this issue.

Catrina Cho / Grade 10
Saint Paul Preparatory Seoul