Summer days mean a few things, including beaches, ice cream, and mosquitoes. Unfortunately, the mosquito part came a bit early for folks in the Voronezh region of southwest Russia.
And these bloodsuckers are playing zero games. Just check out this video:
Or this photo of a car whose owner is never opening the door again:
“It’s certainly true that temperature and rainfall influence mosquitoes,” said Lauren Culler, a research assistant professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth College, in an email to Earther. “A flood could certainly trigger the hatch of mosquito eggs that had been dormant.”
Culler has studied Arctic mosquitoes and found that these nasty-ass critters pop up sooner and in larger numbers as temperatures rise—which is exactly what’s happening up north as climate change takes front seat. A study she authored in 2015 predicted a temperature rise of two degrees Celsius in the Arctic would increase in the probability that mosquitoes survive and become adults by 50 percent.
Now, southwest Russia isn’t the Arctic, but the general idea that milder spring weather causes mosquitos to thrive should still hold. And, per a press release, the model she used could work for other ecosystems, too.
So is what’s happening in this region of Russia a preview of the future? Maybe. But Culler is a bit skeptical and thinks some of the insects we see are also non-biting midges, which are easily confused for mosquitoes.
That hasn’t stopped anyone from freaking out, though. Children have avoided leaving their houses to attend school, fearful of getting “eaten alive” by these bloodthirsty insects, reports Russian-owned RT. I’d be scared, too, if I were them: After all, local reports include tales of puppies and piglets dying at the behest of these mosquito armies.
Local veterinarians responded to news reports, though, saying that the bugs weren’t to blame for these deaths. Instead, vets blamed the animals’ owners, citing “inadequate conditions for their maintenance and feeding.”
“It would take a lot of mosquitoes to directly kill an animal like a pig or even a puppy,” said Donald Yee, an associate professor of aquatic insect ecology who works with Culler, in an email to Earther.
He estimates that a human would need anywhere from 670,000 to two million mosquito bites to come close to death. “Smaller animals could succumb sooner, but I cannot imagine an animal being killed by mosquito bites alone,” Yee went on.
The animals might’ve been running from the mosquitoes and suffered fatal falls, he speculates. It’s hard to know without having seen it. Regardless, this shit’s cray.
So maybe don’t head to Russia for your next vacation. Along with all the dirty politics at play, it’s where trains ride straight through wildfires and where mosquitoes are apparently relentless. No, thank you.