1 Tahrcountry Musings: Galapagos Islands – Alien Mosquito Threat to Wildlife

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Galapagos Islands – Alien Mosquito Threat to Wildlife

Mosquitoes brought to Galapagos by tourists by way of ships and aircrafts is posing a serious threat to the wildlife there.

The endemic black salt marsh mosquito of Galapagos has lived on the Islands for thousands of years. It is part of the ecosystem there and does not create any problem. Scientists fear the endemic insect could pick up diseases from other mainland mosquitoes brought to the Galapagos by tourists and then transmit the infections to the rare wildlife on the islands which includes the giant tortoise, the marine iguana and the flightless cormorant. Diseases such as West Nile fever are the conservationists’ bugbear.

Unlike other species of mosquitoes the black salt marsh mosquito distributed throughout the island can feed on the blood of reptiles as well as mammals and birds.
The scientists believe that rather than controlling the islands' own mosquito, there should be a concerted effort to stop mainland mosquitoes from hitching a ride on ships and planes.

The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

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