Sweden has something of a reputation when it comes to mosquitoes – but which stories are really true? We have tried to answer some of the questions we are frequently asked below:
What is a Swedish mosquito?
Confusingly, the Swedish work for mosquito, “mygg”, sounds less like “mosquito” and more like the English word “midge”, those small, fast-flying clouds of biting insects which have been the bane of many a camping trip in Scotland. Swedish “mygg” are larger, slower, and much easier to catch, and what is more they do not share the tendency of their smaller cousins in Scotland to mount kamikaze attacks on your dinner cooking quietly over the campfire…
Some areas of Sweden, particularly the north, do also have midges, or “knott”, but mosquitoes are much more widespread, distributed in varying densities throughout the country.
Are there a lot of mosquitoes in Sweden?
Yes, and no. The density and number of mosquitoes varies greatly depending on the time of year, the part of the country you are in and the degree of rainfall during the breeding season in spring and early summer. They generally appear around mid-June and disappear again towards the end of September, with numbers lowest at the beginning and end of the season. Since mosquitoes like water and birch forest they are not often found on the high plains away from the mountain stations. Although mosquitoes are present throughout Sweden, numbers are highest in the north of the country.
Mosquitoes go through four stages in their lifecycle: from egg to larva to pupa before finally becoming an adult. Water is essential for mosquitoes to breed, as mosquitoes spend the larval and pupal stages of their lifecycle in water. Most mosquitoes will become food for a wide variety of animals, but those that are not may live for 2-3 months.
Do Swedish mosquitoes bite?
Yes, they do. Sweden has 47 species of mosquito, 45 of which are the biting kind, though not all of these will bite humans. Only female mosquitoes bite humans, as they require the protein to breed.
Some people are particularly sensitive to insect bites and develop itchy red spots, while others seem to be little affected. Mosquitoes in Sweden can be a nuisance, but with some simple precautions the problem can be managed.
How can I avoid being bitten?
Generally, mosquitoes in Sweden are only a particular problem during dusk hours, and more in the north of the country than elsewhere. Wear long-sleeved (bite-proof!) shirts and trousers, and use a repellent if you wish. Cover your head with a hat or scarf. If you are particularly bothered by mosquitoes, you may find a net for your face helpful.
What repellent should I use?
Everyone has their own individual preference regarding repellent. However, in general we recommend you buy your repellent in Sweden, as this may be more effective against Swedish biting insects than repellents purchased elsewhere.
Do Swedish mosquitoes carry malaria?
No. Malaria was present in Sweden until the 18th and 19th centuries, when people lived in much closer proximity to their cattle, but disappeared from the country in the early 20th century.
Are mosquitoes all bad?
While most humans consider them a curse, there are a number of positive sides to the presence of mosquitoes:
- Mosquitoes provide an important source of food for many animals, from the tadpoles and fish which eat their larvae to the birds and bats which hunt for adults on the wing.
- In some countries, mosquitoes assist in the pollination of certain plant species, including Cattleya orchids. These plants in turn have leaves which collect small pools of water and host mini ecosystems of their own containing frogs, newts and toads.
- Spreading disease may seem like a negative, but maintaining the flow of bacteria and viruses around an ecosystem builds immunity and helps to strengthen populations as a whole by culling weaker animals.
- Finally, it is sometimes said that without the deterrent that mosquitoes provide to human settlement, some of our wildest and most beautiful places would have been colonised and developed to a far greater degree. So mosquitoes are actually powerful conservationists!
Mosquitoes are present in Sweden, and in some cases they can be a nuisance. But with simple precautions there is no reason why they should be more than a minor annoyance or spoil your enjoyment of some of the world’s most spectacular wild places. The Nature Travels Team feels strongly from personal experience that if you can survive a camping trip on the west coast of Scotland and live to tell the tale, you will have little difficulty dealing with Swedish mosquitoes!
The Nature Travels Team
Nature Travels offers a wide range of outdoor holidays in Sweden, from canoeing to dog sledding to romantic log cabin breaks, for independents, families and groups of all ages and levels of experience.