Mosquitoes of Insular Newfoundland
The Island of Newfoundland is geologically complex: the west features the most northerly reach of the Appalachian Mountain Chain, the central region was once part of the proto-Atlantic Ocean Bed, and the east includes areas that are geologically related to southwestern Europe or even North Africa. Like the geological origins, the biological origins of this island are complex, and, due to glaciation, life has been restarted here more than once. Most recently, the Island, scraped of its life-giving soil, reemerged from under the ice about 7000 years ago. Colonization reestablished the boreal forest biome (including bogs, heath, and barrens), but with an impoverished flora and fauna when compared to mainland North America. For example, there were no amphibians or reptiles and the group of mammal species present was biased in that they were mainly large northern species. With the arrival of humans from North America and Europe, accidental and intentional introductions of plants and animals along with human-induced extirpations or extinctions have profoundly altered the Island’s biome. For example, frogs were accidentally introduced in the mid-1800’s, perhaps in hay bails coming from Nova Scotia, and it is possible that garter snakes have now become established (a pregnant female was captured on the west coast in September, 2010). (Main source used for the paragraph found here.) However, after the establishment of some plants insects would have been among the first animals to arrive in an ice-free Newfoundland.
The insects’ post-glacial movements onto the island have primarily come from mainland North America. However, insects are known to occasionally disperse tremendously long distances under their own power and aided by winds. And, with Europeans landing on these shores over the last 500 years (with a several decade visit by the Norse about 1000 years ago) many European insect species’ dispersal events were aided by human activities. Consequently, the arthropod fauna (assumed to also be true specifically for the Insecta) of Newfoundland is the most Europeanized in North America (Biological Survey of Canada). Getting to Newfoundland is one barrier to overcome, but to become an established population is another thing altogether. Even so, with the modern speed and scope of human movements and trade and adding to that the impacts of climate change, assessing the diversity of insects on Newfoundland is a moving target. Much of that flux goes unnoticed by people, except for changes among groups of insects that cause economic loss, are nuisances or impact human health. For the latter two reasons the mosquitoes are noticed.
It is our intention here to present the diversity and to collate biological details of the mosquitoes of Newfoundland for the purpose of aiding students that follow in our footsteps. There have been only a few major studies focused on Newfoundland mosquitoes (Mokry, J. E., 1984; Hustins, S., 2006). The geographical sampling across the island is far from complete and the intensity of sampling varies between these few studies. Much of the detail on the biology of the species that we present here is typically coming from studies conducted on mainland populations. We will leave it to those same students that may find this resource helpful to correct our suppositions and to add revealed detail on the diversity of species on the Island.
For a working list of Mosquitoes collected and identified here on the island, click here.