No Country for Old Mosquitoes

The Faroe Islands. The Orkney Islands. Jan Mayen. Iceland. These are some of the few places in the world where you won’t find mosquitoes. You sometimes hear that Iceland is the only country in the world utterly devoid of mosquitoes. That’s technically correct as the Faroe Islands are part of the Kingdom of Denmark. Icelanders often savour victories based on technicalities the most. But the mosquito-free paradise could be coming to an end. Surprisingly, the bug fauna in Iceland is more abundant and more diverse than people believe.

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No Mosquitoes in Iceland Puzzles Scientists

Entomologist Erling Ólafsson is surprised that mosquitoes have neither settled in Iceland nor the Faroe Islands while they exist in the island states’ neighboring countries. There is no definite explanation as to why these two countries remain mosquito-free.

“It is very strange. People have mentioned various possible explanations, for example that Iceland has an oceanic climate and that they don’t thrive in it, but that’s nonsense,” Erling commented to ruv.is.

In Erling’s view, fluctuating weather in winter is not a likely explanation either. “It’s rather a question of the chemical composition of the water and ground.”

It might also be a strike of luck, Erling reasoned, adding that mosquitoes could easily be carried to the country with the wind or airplanes and adapt to the Icelandic climate.

Midges and black flies exist in Iceland, particularly in the area around Lake Mývatn in the northeast. Even though they bite, they are not considered as much of a menace as mosquitoes.

“The mosquito is more aggressive. It attacks you day and night, awake or asleep. And it bites through your clothes but the black fly rather goes for naked spots of skin,” Erling stated.

ESA