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Greenland's mosquitoes are getting worse

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  • Updated: July 8, 2016
  • Published August 5, 2015

Warming temperatures in Greenland are wreaking havoc with the timing of the region's mosquito hatch -- with devastating consequences for caribou (and perhaps for those who hunt them), according to an account from Motherboard.

Dartmouth College ecologist Lauren Culler has found that the shallow ponds where mosquito larvae hatch were already among the first things to thaw in spring. With spring often coming earlier, that means fewer of the larvae are eaten by predators and more are reaching the winged, blood-sucking stage of development.

"Lab studies, field studies and population models show that a warming climate means more mosquitoes survive until adulthood," Culler told Motherboard.

That might sound daunting for an outdoors enthusiast, but it can be downright dangerous for caribou. Mosquitoes can kill calves, Motherboard notes, and time spent escaping the biting insects is time the animals can't spending eating or nursing young.

There are hints, though, that in the long run, climate change may have the opposite effect: Three of the 10 mosquito ponds Culler monitors near Kangerlussuaq have dried up since she began her research.

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