Have you ever gotten a mosquito bite while you’re on the tube in the middle of a cold, blistering winter? Well, this sneaky pest that has evolved to prey on living creatures in the underground transportation tunnels of London and it's around all year long.
The London Underground mosquito
This mosquito was first found during World War II when the tunnels were used as a bomb shelter that protected nearly 180,000 people. Those seeking refuge in the underground were attacked by all sorts of microscopic beasts including the underground mosquito.
It was only 1999, that the insect was examined in depth by a doctoral student named Katherine Byrne. She analysed seven mosquitos from different sites in the tunnel and her findings revealed that there was a huge difference between the underground dwellers and those above. So much so that it has been classified as a completely different sub-species all together.
The Culex pipiens molestus—aka the London Underground mosquito—has a preference for rodent and human blood, while its relatives above the tunnel also feast on birds. Additionally, while the common mosquito hibernates during the winter, these underground pests stay active all year round as there are no seasonal changes inside the tunnels. Byrne also revealed that the two species were so distinct that they wouldn’t be able to breed with each other. She wrote in her paper:
Breeding experiments show compatibility between the Underground populations but not with those breeding above ground.
What to do if you’re bitten by a mosquito
Mosquitos are usually harmless and annoying at most, but there is a way to minimise itching and redness, and treat the bite. Experts at Very Well Health, recommend using a cold compress, like an ice pack, or lotion to soothe the itching. Avoid scratching the bite at all costs as it could result in broken skin that could lead to an infection. Oral antihistamines can also be taken to reduce pain and itching.
In the rare case that you have a severe allergic reaction, contact your doctor immediately.