In Denmark, there are over 1600 mosquito species, of which around 30-35 species are biting midges.
You can divide mosquitoes into groups based on their habitats, which in Denmark are as follows:
- Fungus gnat
- House mosquitoes
- Malaria mosquitoes
This division is not based on scientific classifications, but rather the actual way mosquitoes live in Denmark. Below we go through the main characteristics of each group of mosquitoes and other facts about the mosquito species in Denmark.
How many mosquito species are there?
Mosquitoes belong to the same order as flies (Diptera) and have their own suborder (NematoceraIn Denmark, more than 1600 species have been recorded in this suborder. However, you should be aware of two things:
- The 1600 species also include pangolins, midges and the like, which are also considered mosquitoes
- there are still many mosquito species that have not yet been recorded in the Danish fauna
Of course, worldwide, Nematocera contains far more mosquito species (approximately 33,000 recorded species) and there are virtually no areas on Earth where there is a clear picture of the actual number of mosquito species.
Common mosquito species in Denmark
Below are a number of mosquito species that live in Denmark. The species are both biting midges and other mosquitoes and come from 19 different families. The species are sorted alphabetically and each species is listed with its Danish name followed by its Latin name and typical habitat:
- Alm. stankelben (Tipula paludosa) - fields and meadows
- Dancing mosquitoes (Chironomus sp.) - lakes, ponds and brackish water areas
- Dixidae (Dixa sp.) - vegetation around lakes and ponds
- Galmyg (Cecidomyiidae sp.) - gardens, parks, forests, etc.
- Glossy midge (Ptychoptera contaminata) - vegetation at forest lakes
- Fertilizer mosquitoes (Scatopse ornata) - fertilizer or in vegetation.
- Glass mosquitoes (Chaoborus sp.) - near lakes and ponds
- Garden hair mosquito (Bibio hortulanus) - in or around flowers
- Cattle flies (Simuliidae sp.) - near cattle and horses
- Mitter (Culicoides sp.) - numerous in wetlands
- Fungus gnat (Aedes) - Forests and areas with dense vegetation
- Butterfly mosquito (Psychoda sp.) - damp or clammy rooms
- Butterfly mosquito (Pericoma sp.) - for watercourses without pollution
- Small house mosquitoes (Culex pipiens) - in homes in winter
- Large house mosquitoes (Culiseta annulata) - in homes in winter
- Sandpiper (Aedes) - Beaches and meadows
- Fungus gnats (Mycetophila sp.) - damp areas in forests where mushrooms grow
- Fungus gnats (Sciara sp.) - shaded areas
- Window mosquitoes (Sylvicola punctatus) - vegetation near cattle and barn windows
- Winter mosquitoes (Trichocera sp.) - forests, parks and gardens
Please note that the above is only a list of a small part of the mosquitoes found in Denmark that have Danish names - in practice, there are many more species. You can also see a list of galmygge species with Danish names here.
Mosquitoes in Denmark
Mosquitoes are a family (Culicidae) in the suborder Nematocera, which is characterized by sucking blood from humans and animals.
Worldwide, around 3500 species of mosquitoes have been recorded and in Denmark there are 30-35 species.
Be aware that it's not only mosquitoes that bite - other mosquito species such as midges and midges can also bite.
The forest mosquitoes are a group of mosquito species in the genus Aedes. The genus contains 960 mosquito species (cf. Catalog of Life), but only 8 of these have been observed in Europe - and even fewer in Denmark.
Forest mosquitoes are characterized by the following:
- Mosquito bitesForest mosquitoes bite more people than the other mosquito groups and are the group that causes the most nuisance to humans. They usually start biting in May and stop biting in August (the most mosquito bites are generally in July).
- Spawning grounds: Forest mosquitoes typically breed in small temporary water bodies in forests (such as ponds, puddles, bogs, ditches, streams, small forest lakes, etc.) Mosquitoes prefer a certain amount of vegetation or foliage to protect their young. The adult mosquitoes generally stay close to hatching sites.
- Egg laying: Female mosquitoes lay their eggs in the summer - after they have sucked blood from a host. The eggs are laid in a place where there was a certain amount of water in the spring, but in the summer there is only moisture and sufficient protective vegetation or foliage. The adult mosquitoes die during the summer, while the eggs overwinter. There is usually only 1 generation of forest mosquitoes per year.
There are 4 or 5 species of midges in Denmark. Like the fungus gnats, they also belong to the genus Aedes. This group can also be further divided into beach mosquito and meadow mosquitoas some species in the latter group do not need brackish water to breed and primarily live in meadows.
- Spawning grounds: Marsh mosquitoes live primarily in brackish water, especially in salt marshes and swamps along fjord shores. The adult mosquitoes fly up to 10 km away from their breeding sites, which is considerably further than the forest mosquitoes, for example.
- GenerationsThe reason for this is that they lay their eggs in brackish water, which is present throughout the year. However, the amount of water still determines the number of generations. If there is not enough water throughout the year, there will not be many generations either.
- Adult mosquitoes: The adult meadow mosquitoes live well into the fall, where they can continue to sting humans. This is because there can be several generations per year and some larvae only develop into adults in the fall.
House mosquitoes are mainly distinguished from mosquitoes in two main ways; 1) because they belong to different genera than Aedes and 2) because they don't die in the fall, but instead enter buildings to hibernate. House mosquitoes are sometimes also called basement mosquitoes.
- Generations: House mosquitoes develop several generations in the summer and their larvae can thrive in almost any type of water. They are often found in stagnant water such as water containers, troughs, buckets, pots, tires, pools, etc.
- Small and large house mosquitoes: In Denmark, there are two species of house mosquitoes that are commonly found: the large house mosquito (Culiseta annulata) and the little house mosquito (Culex pipiens). In addition to their size, the two mosquito species can be relatively easily distinguished from each other by their colors; the small house mosquito is brownish, while the large mosquito is grey with white rings on its legs. If you get mosquito bites in the winter, it's usually because you've disturbed the larger mosquito in its hibernation site. The lesser house mosquito can also bite, but not as often as the greater house mosquito.
Malaria mosquitoes belong to the genus Anopheles and there are currently 3 of these species in Denmark. However, because the malaria parasite has been eradicated throughout the country since 1946, it is extremely unlikely to contract malaria today.
The number of malaria mosquitoes in Denmark is low and they are not particularly widespread. Therefore, when you are bitten by a mosquito, it is only rarely a malaria mosquito and therefore cannot be said to be particularly bothersome.
Foreign mosquitoes in Denmark
There are numerous examples of both dangerous and harmless foreign mosquito species finding their way to Denmark - both historically and in recent years. Below we review some of the species that have attracted the most attention in the Danish press in recent years:
Nile fever mosquito
In the fall of 2014, researchers from DTU found nile fever mosquitoes (Culex modestus) in a waterhole in Greve, Denmark. The mosquito can transmit a number of viral diseases to humans (e.g. West Nile fever and Usutu virus), which can result in encephalitis - and there is no vaccine against these diseases. However, it should be mentioned that the danger of these diseases is only real if infected migratory birds come to Denmark from Africa, as Nile virus mosquitoes only act as intermediate hosts.
The Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) is also called the striped tiger mosquitoes. The tiger mosquito can transmit yellow fever, dengue fever and Chikungunya fever to humans. It can also transmit the parasite Dirofilaria immitis to dogs and cats, which can lead to heartworm.
The tiger mosquito originated in Asia, but in the mid-1960s it began to spread to the rest of the world. Today it is found in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and all parts of the Americas. It arrived in Europe in 1979, when it was discovered in Albania. Since then, it has gradually moved further and further north and today it thrives in Italy, Spain, France and the Netherlands, among others. However, there are many European countries where the tiger mosquito has only been observed.
The mosquito was first discovered in the Netherlands in 2005 and has since established itself here. However, the short distance between Denmark and the Netherlands worries Danish experts and since 2010 it has been feared that it will find its way to our latitudes. Although the tiger mosquito originates from tropical climates, it is capable of overwintering in cold regions and can easily survive snow and frost.
In 2013, Swedish scientists discovered a brand new species of mosquito called Anopheles algeriensis on the island of Gotland in Sweden. The new mosquito species is a so-called malaria mosquito - a species that can infect humans with the disease malaria.
However, there is no need to panic as malaria has been eradicated in Europe since the mid-1900s. To infect a human, the mosquito must bite a human host infected with malaria - which is extremely unlikely in our latitudes. In practice, the only way malaria can be transmitted in Europe is basically as follows:
- A person travels to a tropical climate and contracts malaria there (i.e. is bitten by one or more infected malaria mosquitoes)
- The person returns to Europe and is bitten by a malaria mosquito
- The malaria mosquito in Europe can now infect new hosts with malaria
In order for the new mosquito species in Gotland to infect a human with malaria, the entire above process must be completed. It should be mentioned that the vast majority of tourists in tropical countries are given anti-malarial medication before arrival, which reduces the risk of the above process taking place.
For your information, there are already 3 species of malaria mosquitoes in Denmark, but none of them infect humans with malaria, as the malaria parasite has been eradicated in Denmark since 1946. Read more about malaria mosquitoes here.
Aedes aegypti lives in tropical climates and can spread dengue fever, yellow fever, chikungunya virus and Zika virus. The mosquito does not thrive in Denmark, but is occasionally found in Southern Europe (e.g. Spain) where it causes occasional outbreaks of dengue fever.
The so-called Zika virus which Aedes aegypti can spread, is a relatively new virus that first became widespread in Brazil in 2015. The virus has since spread unusually quickly to other parts of South America and Central America. The mosquitoes are also found to a limited extent in North America, where a few cases have been recorded. In 2016, it was observed in Europe for the first time.
When a person is infected with the Zika virus, there are usually no or relatively few symptoms. Statistically, 80% experience no symptoms, while the remaining 20% experience one or more of the following symptoms: fever, rash, red eyes and joint pain. In pregnant women, however, there is a high risk of the fetus developing microcephaly, which is a developmental defect where the fetal head is smaller than normal.
The other diseases that Aedes aegypti can spread (dengue fever, yellow fever and chikungunya virus) are rare in Europe. When they do occur, it's almost always in the southernmost parts of the continent and almost never in Denmark.