Most people aren’t aware that climate change is increasing the range of mosquitoes and other disease-carrying insects. That’s why the planetary health hub coalition commissioned Margate artist Rachel Ella Taylor to make a giant mosquito – to be made from scrap and salvaged materials.
Dr Will Stableforth, Consultant Gastroenterologist, outside the House of Commons
How was it made?
The mosquito was made by local Margate artist Rachel Ella Taylor. The constituent parts are as follows:
Easter egg packaging, black plastic mesh fruit netting and out of date metallic eyeshadow.
A recycled plastic fish bowl, 2 feathers cut from a fancy dress outfit, and a van aerial from the scrap yard for the proboscis.
An abandoned washing airer and broken waste paper basket left on the streets of Northdown Road in Margate, a plastic coated cardboard box and foam packaging from a TV all tied bound together using product recall cable ties and wire stripped from old electrical cable.
Thick wire saved from a local skip.= and covered in fuzz made from recycled upholstery wadding, wool and tumble dryer fluff.
Wire saved from a local skip and insulation foil foam roll from a factory. The organdy (black fabric) is cotton based and was purchased from a local fabric store.
A patchwork of rucksacks and military pockets, offcuts of industrial tape from carpet manufacturers, damaged plastic plumbing pipe rescued from a local building company and foam tube rescued from the street in Ramsgate.
Mosquito borne diseases
As the world heats up, mosquitos will thrive in historically colder climates and higher up mountains. It is expected that more travellers will return to the UK with mosquito-borne diseases. If a native mosquito then bites the infected person, there is the risk that it can pick up the disease in the blood meal, and spread it locally.
Realistically it is unlikely this century that malaria will become widespread in the UK. Malaria has lived in the UK before, but was eradicated. Its disappearance was caused by multiple factors, including drainage of wetlands, improved houses and improved treatments. It is likely to return, but probably only in marshy or coastal areas in the south and east of the country.
That said the range of other mosquito-borne infections such as Dengue Fever is also increasing. Even now in the summer it is possible to contract Dengue in the South of France, and it is moving northwards.
As with many climate-induced health harms, the bulk of the harm will be in the Global South. According to a 2019 study in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, by 2050, 500 million more people will be exposed to disease-carrying mosquitoes.