Mosquito warning issued after hot weather boosts breeding

The aedes albopictus mosquito. Photo: Getty Images
The aedes albopictus mosquito. Photo: Getty Images
Dangerous exotic mosquitoes’ ability to breed in Lyttelton may be increasing due to climate change.

After a hot summer, residents are being urged to check their properties for potential mosquito breeding habitats due to the close proximity of homes to the port.

“If exotic mosquitoes were to sneak through, breed, and infect people, the results could be disastrous. The diseases they carry cause severe illness and can be fatal,” said Dr Matt Reid, medical officer of health for the National Public Health Service.

Health protection officers monitor the area around Lyttelton Port for evidence of foreign mosquitoes, particularly those from tropical regions, which could threaten public health.

Serious diseases like malaria, dengue fever and Ross River fever can be carried into New Zealand by tropical mosquito types like aedes and anopheles,” said Reid.

“With climate change potentially making our environment more comfortable for these mosquitoes, an outbreak could have significant cost implications for the health system, and eradication campaigns can cost millions.”

All Lyttelton residents are being asked by the NPHS to check their property for collections of stagnant water which can be attractive breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

“Mosquitoes struggle in the cold but with the recent warm weather, areas of stagnant and pooled water can be perfect breeding grounds.”

Reid said residents should empty out any plant pots, buckets, tins, jars and other items like playground equipment that may hold water.

Lyttelton residents are being asked to empty collections of stagnant water on their property to...
Lyttelton residents are being asked to empty collections of stagnant water on their property to prevent exotic mosquito breeding. The wheelbarrow pictured above is an example of a potential mosquito breeding ground. Photo: Supplied
Boats, dinghies, and kayaks should also be turned upside down regularly to prevent pooling water.

Reid said exotic mosquitoes have been found during checks at New Zealand borders, including a non-recent case at Christchurch International Airport, but the insects have failed to get established because of the efforts of health protection officers and biosecurity staff.

“In Lyttelton, the residential area is very close to the port. While we do not monitor the residential area, we want to raise awareness because the public can play a large role in removing places where mosquitoes could breed.”

Reid said this notice is based around prevention as he is not aware of any exotic mosquitoes being discovered at the port.

Any larvae and mosquitoes the health protection team catch are sent to a Biosecurity New Zealand laboratory in Wellington to see if they are native or exotic, Reid said.