Mosquitoes cause problems on Somerset Levels

Jon Ryan sleeps under a mosquito net to prevent being bitten. Credit: ITV West Country

People on the Somerset levels are having to take extra precautions against mosquitoes. There has been a noticeable increase in the number of the insects. The recent floods, which have left huge areas of stagnant water, and the warm summer temperatures provide an excellent breeding ground for the mosquitos.

Jon Ryan, who lives in Godney near Wells, is so fed up with the problem, he's invested in a mosquito net.

"I've lived here for four or five years now and I've never known the problem to be so bad. You'd maybe get 2 or 3 bites. But this year it's terrible. I got around 40 bites in one night. So we decided to buy this mosquito net."

Just down the road at a nearby farm, Mike Churches has lost about 90 acres of grassland to the recent floods. He says it's caused large swathes of the insects all over the farm and his cattle are suffering.

"We've had to treat the cattle several times by injecting them in the eyes with antibiotics. It's cost a lot of money - around £6,000. And although Blue Tongue has effectively been treated I'm worried the risk could be back with this increase in mosquitos."

Mosquitos are causing problems across the levels. Credit: ITV West Country

Experts say the British mosquitoes while annoying are not dangerous. There is a concern though that more dangerous types of mosquito that carry diseases like Yellow Fever and Dengue Fever are starting to breed in mainland Europe and could spread over here. Ray Barnett from Bristol City Museum said:

"There's a national scheme to monitor mosquitoes and make sure that if they do arrive they're properly eradicated."

The Environment Agency told The West Country Tonight:

"Mosquito numbers fluctuate naturally year on year for a variety of reasons, such as temperature. Anecdotal evidence suggests the number of mosquitoes on the Somerset Levels has increased this year. Our teams working on the moors and levels have not noticed a marked increase. Our teams are working to remove all the remaining flood water from the Somerset Levels, and expect pumping operations to be complete by the end of the week."

But farmers say it will take a lot longer for the land to properly dry out and recover. It's likely therefore that the problem could be around for a while longer.