Tuesday, 31 July 2007

The briefing against patio heaters continues...

It seems mosquito populations are ‘taking off’ ;-), particularly in Norfolk according to the BBC. An insect conservation trust spokesman pointed out: "Where you have warm, wet weather in the summer that does tend to be a good time for mosquitoes, giving them the opportunity to breed.” "Last year June was quite warm and wet and there appeared to be a lot more mosquitoes about then."

Up until the 1880s malaria was common in the UK and was endemic in areas of Kent and Essex.

So far so good… Now the Metro, a free newspaper for London Commuters, is linking mosquitoes to the newly demonised Patio Heater.

They seem to suggest, quoting Matt Shardlow, of the trust Buglife, that there is a ‘connection’ between growing mosquito populations and the increased use of outdoor heaters.

Queue: Twilight zone music…

...OK stop now.

What he actually said was: "A lot of people believe that mosquitoes are attracted to body heat but when they identify their prey, what they actually home in on is the carbon dioxide.”

What that means is that, the heaters may attract any mosquitoes that happen for other reasons to be in the vicinity to make for the area round the heater. In the same way as a group of people sitting outside in the evening might by their exhalations of carbon dioxide, without the aid of an ‘evil’ patio heater, might attract them.

The heaters do not spontaneously create mosquitoes. They do not provide the conditions for them to breed, creating a plague of them.

So, the only actual ‘connection’, as they so disingenuously put it, between the ‘growing mosquito populations’ and the increased use of out door heaters, is that they may make it more likely, that a few more of the mosquitoes within ‘smelling distance’, will eventually find their way to an operating patio heater - mistakenly taking it for a crowd of people, in the same way as a moth might mistake a patio light for the moon and turn up for the evening…

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