The London Underground Has Its Own Species Of Mosquito

“The last mosquito that bit me had to check into the Betty Ford clinic.” —Patsy, Absolutely Fabulous

In A Nutshell

The London Underground is a sprawling subway network that runs underneath one of the busiest cities in the world. However, among the one billion commuters who use the service each year, there’s another species occupying these tunnels. Classified as Culex pipiens f. molestus, this is a species of mosquito that has specially adapted to the conditions of the tunnels and now happily spends its days attacking passengers and staff alike.

The Whole Bushel

It’s no surprise to hear that the London Underground has a problem with pests. After all, it’s an underground network of warm, dark tunnels underneath one of the busiest cities in the world. However, among the rats and the bats that occupy this vast maze, another menace stalks the tunnels. This creature is Culex pipiens f. molestus, also known as the “London Underground mosquito.”

First reported in a 1999 research paper by geneticists Kate Byrne and Richard Nichols—a paper entitled “Culex pipiens in London Underground Tunnels: Differentiation Between Surface and Subterranean Populations”—this species of mosquito is unique to the London Underground, having adapted its biology to survive and thrive within this harsh subterranean environment.

Mosquitoes require pools of stagnant water to lay eggs, which aren’t uncommon in the tunnels. However, as a result of the millions of people who use the transportation network each day, these puddles also contain a relatively high amount of nutrients, derived from organic material such as discarded sandwiches and human skin cells. By laying eggs in this water, mother mosquitoes have ensured that each of their children will be a large and healthy specimen. Indeed, such is the power of this water that the mothers don’t need to enjoy a nutrient-rich blood meal before laying their eggs.

While this species was only acknowledged in 1999, there’s evidence that they’ve been around since the 1800s, after their ancestors colonized the network while it was under construction. Indeed, it was widely reported that the Londoners who used the tunnels to shelter from the Blitz during World War II were attacked regularly by these creatures. Even more recently (and worryingly), specimens of this mosquito were found within the New York subway system in 2011, but only after they started infesting houses built on top of the subway lines.

Show Me The Proof

“Culex pipiens in London Underground tunnels: differentiation between surface and subterranean populations,” Katharine Byrne and Richard A Nichols
London mysteries: winged beasts on the tube
CBS: Upper West Side Mosquito Mystery

  • Marozia

    Are there any plans to eradicate this type of mosquito?

    • I’ll catch ’em with my hat and then you chop their heads off with your longsword.

      • lbatfish

        And to do my part, I’ll be chowing down on the larvae.

        • SensiblePerson

          And i’ll be puking in the corner…

          • Enzo

            I’ll be standing watching emotionless-ly while looking grey with my head slightly detached from my body for some reason

          • lbatfish

            Say, you really are a sensible person, aren’t you? 🙂

            BTW, my comment about eating the larvae was made in the context of me supposedly being a fish. In real life, I wouldn’t be quite as likely to volunteer to do that.

  • Toaster Monkey

    How to write a knowledge Nuts article.
    1. Go to Listverse or Cracked and pick random article.
    2. Pick one point from said article and copy it.
    3. Elaborate very slighty without adding anything useful
    4. Receive your money from frater.
    5. Pat yourself on back for earning from someone elses work.

    Come on Frater stop this copying bullshit.

    • SensiblePerson

      If this is bullshit then why don’t you simply stop looking at this “bullshit” besides if you don’t like Frater’s work then don’t look at anyway.

      • Toaster Monkey

        Because I like this site and most of the articles are informative and original. This poster has just copied someone else. I am unsure if it was listverse or cracked, but I recently read something almost identical to this. Until I read it, how would I know this genius?

    • Vanstarimin

      I agree! For a site that calls itself knowledgenuts, it is a bit superficial.

  • SensiblePerson

    Oh really, that means that the next time I go to London i’ll just have to avoid the subway