The changes humans make to the landscape are beneficial for mosquitoes that spread diseases such as zika, chikungunya and dengue. Such conclusions were made by biologist Maarten Schrama and his colleagues as a result of a study published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.
“If we know what habitat mosquitoes thrive in best, we can design our own habitat so that the risk of mosquito outbreaks is minimized for infectious diseases,” explains Scrama.
The team of scientists studied the presence of pesticides, water quality, livestock density and pasture pressure or “desertification”. It turned out that the density of disease-carrying mosquitoes was higher in places where people adapted the landscape. This is the first time that humans have been scientifically proven to make their habitat extremely suitable for their own disease vectors and their livestock.
And this is useful information: “If we know the conditions under which mosquitoes thrive, we can design our own habitat so that the risk of outbreaks of infectious diseases carried by mosquitoes is minimized,” the scientists emphasize. In other words, disease prevention at the territorial planning level.
While many insect species don’t do well as a result of human activities, the opposite seems to be true for mosquitoes. “Mosquitoes often thrive in an environment of anxiety,” explains Scrama. “Many other insects, such as butterflies, need stable and undisturbed ecosystems. When vulnerable insects disappear, competition for mosquitoes diminishes. ” The scientist gives an example: “Many insects have disappeared in the Netherlands in recent years due to drought, but it may well be that mosquitoes will benefit from this. If the water, which usually never dries out, suddenly disappears, mosquitoes can settle in such an area very quickly. Due to this kind of periodic droughts, fish, amphibians and other types of insects that usually attack mosquitoes disappear. ”
Understanding the role of our own habitat and how mosquitoes respond to it is critical to the spread of infections.