The London Underground has its own unique species of mosquito

The disease carrier evolved into a subspecies with some genetic differences from their common relative.

The London Underground can be a chore to navigate at the best of times. Not only do you have to find your way around a parade of sweaty commuters, but an environment teeming with fauna in the shape of rats, mice and pesky pigeons. You may gasp at the sight of them, but there is another pest to be on guard for – mosquitos, and a new blood thirsty type at that.

What is the London Underground species of mosquito called?

This 100-150 year old specimen is a subtype of the mosquito commonly found in the British Isles known as Culex pipien molestus. It was first noted anecdotally during World War II, when residents of London took shelter from air raids in the depths of the Tube tunnels. Those seeking shelter were first to be attacked by the ferocious Arthropods who, armed with weapons in the shape of a proboscis, were fed upon.

Why are they different?

Being a warm habitat void of any sunlight means this deep dark part of London is the perfect place for them to breed. Filled with an abundance of food in the shape of humans means there is no chance they will die off any time soon.

With slight genetic differences, these flying insects have been provided their very own scientific designation separating them from their surface cousins.

The Tube variant ‘molestus’ appears only to feed on humans and mammals, whereas the surface dwelling variant pipiens is known to bite only birds. However, the bigger difference can be found in their breeding patterns: the underground species is able to reproduce throughout the year due to a warmer climate and a greater availability of food.

Are they dangerous?

Probably not, as they’re closely related to the common mosquito found throughout Europe. However, the only probable risk posed will be an immune response prompted by a bite to the body. Though some people are allergic to them caused by proteins in the saliva of the insect, known as Skeeter syndrome. Speak to a doctor if you suspect a reaction.

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