Anopheles mosquitoes disperse over long distances by wind

This is decidedly unsettling: “Windborne long-distance migration of malaria mosquitoes in the Sahel”.

Studies seeking to understand the paradoxical persistence of malaria in areas in which surface water is absent for 3–8 months of the year have suggested that some species of Anopheles mosquito use long-distance migration. Here we confirm this hypothesis through aerial sampling of mosquitoes at 40–290 m above ground level and provide—to our knowledge—the first evidence of windborne migration of African malaria vectors, and consequently of the pathogens that they transmit.

The work is by Diana Huestis and coworkers in Nature. The long-distance dispersal helps to address why it is so hard to eliminate malaria. It looks like females (80% of those dispersing this way) take on blood meals and then hitch a ride on the wind.