A Lapland researcher has laid claim to identifying a new species of mosquito, the Aedes rossicus. The discovery of the hitherto-unknown insect was confirmed in Rovaniemi on Wednesday, just in time for Midsummer.
"It’s not a new addition to the species, but it’s a type of mosquito that has not been recognised because of insufficient entomology research. It has probably been in Finland for hundreds and thousands of years," Lapland Provincial Museum natural sciences curator Jukka Salmela said.
The newly-identified mosquito differs from others in that it is active and likely to bite unsuspecting victims during the day as well as at night. It thrives in shadowy locations and can be seen in large swarms, especially in flood plains near large rivers. Finland now has 42 recognised mosquito species, half of which are a nuisance to humans, Salmela noted.
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The museum curator said that he came across the insect in northern Finland’s Selkäsaari, along the Tornio river in early June. However verification of the finding took place using mosquitoes cultivated in Rovaniemi. Aedes rossicus had been previously identified in the lower reaches of the Swedish side of the Tornio river.
Not much is known about the mosquito species, precisely because of the lack of research in this area.
"We know the number of mosquito species. But as to whether or not changes have occurred in the species in Lapland over the past 30 years, we can’t really say anything."
Bumper summer for mosquitoes
So far this year, mosquitoes have already been detected as far north as Lapland. "The mosquito season is normal or a few days ahead of schedule," Salmela said.
He explained that conditions for the six-legged bugs are good this year compared to last year, which was exceptionally hot and dry.
"If there is enough moisture, mosquitoes will proliferate," said environmental expert Reima Leinonen of the Kainuu centre for economic development, transport and the environment.
Midges and sand flies, which are especially common in the north, can also ruin holidaymakers’ outdoor activities. Salmela said that it’s not unusual for people to be taken aback when they encounter biting insects for the first time during summer.
"It could be because of the long, cold winter in between. We don’t remember what these insects can be like," he concluded.