Mosquitoes, which are found in the tropics and the subtropics, can transmit viruses that lead to dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever, and other diseases. The effectiveness of an important mosquito-fighting insecticide may be impaired by global warming, revealed a recent study in the Journal of Medical Entomology. Two researchers from Montana State University, graduate student Shavonn Whiten and Dr. Robert Peterson, have shown that permethrin becomes less effective at killing the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) as temperatures increase.
Whiten said, "Many of the areas where these insecticides are employed have varying drastic temperature changes."
In their lab study, the researchers exposed adult mosquitoes to varying concentrations of permethrin at a range of temperatures. They found an inverse relationship between death and temperature from 16 degree Celcius to 30 degree Celcius, which showed the highest negative correlation. From 30 to 32, there was, however, a positive correlation between mortality and temperature. And from 32 to 34, the negative correlation resumed.
Some possible reasons-
1) Lower temperatures may make the mosquito neurons more sensitive to permethrin, which is a neurotoxin.
2) The permethrin may persist longer and remain active at lower temperatures.
3) Lower temperatures may enhance the ability of the insecticide to bind to its target site.
Peterson said, "People involved in mosquito-control efforts should take temperature into account when choosing a pest-control product. If we are applying at higher and higher ambient temperatures, we could have a reduction in control. Therefore you need to pick something that's going to be efficient and not be a waste of time and money in controlling mosquitoes."