The aggressive snow mosquito advances towards the south of Spain

The snow mosquito is a species of Palearctic mosquito that can be found throughout Europe, from the Iberian Peninsula to Turkey and from Italy to Sweden, and lives mainly in cold areas where snow falls in abundance. However, this last feature could be coming to an end, after a study by the Hunting Resources Research Institute (IREC) has revealed its presence in Ciudad Real in Spain, which shows its progressive adaptation to increasingly warmer environments. It is, in fact, the southernmost record dated in the peninsula.

Characterised by its high aggressiveness, this rare species –even in cold areas– takes advantage of spring meltwater to complete its life cycle in pools of crystal-clear water. An unusual climatological environment in the city of La Mancha where it was sighted, where snow is scarce and rarely (every five to 15 years) persists for more than a day on the ground. Not even the Filomena storm, which hit Castilla-La Mancha in January 2021, brought enough snow to the surroundings of the city to leave long-lasting puddles for the species.

Studies on the snow mosquito are scarce, so it is unknown whether, like its invasive relatives Ae. albopictus , Ae. japonicus and Ae. koreicus, it is also capable of transmitting diseases such as dengue, Zika, Chikungunya or yellow fever.

For this reason, the study recommends caution and preventive measures to avoid, as far as possible, exposure during the hours of greatest mosquito activity (dawn and dusk); as well as wearing garments that cover the entire body surface, applying topical repellents and making use of barriers such as mosquito nets to prevent their entry into homes, especially those that are in the surroundings of the Parque Forestal de La Atalaya, the natural space of Ciudad Real where it has been sighted.