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If you've been keeping an eye on the news in recent weeks, you may have noticed that some pests are increasingly common in Portugal. In the middle of autumn, flies, bedbugs, moths and mosquitoes appear, among other unwanted species.
According to specialists, climate change is one of the causes of the appearance of these pests in autumn.
Summer is usually the season when insects are most alert. Many species take refuge in their nests in winter and hibernate while they wait for warm weather and greater availability of food.
What pests have been emerging in Portugal?
This autumn, common flies, fruit flies and bed bugs are among the most cited in the media.
Already between June and August 2022, there have been reports of pests of rats and cockroaches in Lisbon. This is because, as CNN Portugal explains, the contract that the municipality had with the pest control company had closed.
Why do flies appear this autumn?
The existence of so many flies at this time of year is due to the higher temperatures. "The housefly is at an optimum temperature of around 25 degrees (..), and we have been having temperatures within these values", specialist Filipe Nunes tells Rádio Renascença. But the rubbish in the streets also contributes to the phenomenon, he adds.
An opinion shared by José Alberto Quartau, "the most experienced of the Portuguese entomologists", according to ."We are having a favorable autumn to have more flies than in other years, for the flies (which seem to be houseflies, but it is a complex of flies that must include several species) to become more daring." Additionally, he also mentioned that "the fact that the streets of Lisbon have been lately dirtier than usual may explain the greater amount of flies (...) It is relevant to have an organic product in decomposition because it is there that the flies lay their eggs".
Margarida Matos, from the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon, points out that only a field study could confirm the increase in fruit flies this year. But "the warmer than normal spring could have motivated the early appearance of summer species. Even with the end of the summer and the beginning of autumn, temperatures remain high", accordingly to Observador.
What factors lead to the appearance of more insect infestations?
Climate change, the accumulation of rubbish in the streets and the growth of tourism at a global level are the factors that lead to a greater number of pests
"We still have optimal temperatures for flies, and little rain, although obviously there could be other factors. For the development of flies, it facilitates the availability of food in the urban areas: food in our kitchens or from rubbish accumulated in the streets, and also often where there is animal breeding," explained Filipe Nunes, a researcher at the Institute of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine at the New University of Lisbon, to Radio Renascença Filipe Nunes, investigador do Instituto de Higiene e Medicina Tropical da Universidade Nova de Lisboa.
In the case of bedbugs, the explanation lies in the globalization process that began in the 1990s. "People started to make more trips for tourism, to the most different countries, for study and business, with a frequency that was unthinkable a few decades before", writes Edna Bernardo, a specialist in parasitology, quoted by the blog Mensagem de Lisboa. "This is why bedbugs are easily found, for example, in hotels - especially when cleanliness is not in abundance," the expert concludes.
What health problems does this increase in pests pose?
According to the Portuguese Society of Allergology and Clinical Immunology (SPAIC), in a survey on the portal Sapo, "mosquitoes, flies, fleas and bedbugs can cause reactions, generally local, resulting from the bite and not from the bite". Although in most cases the insects only bite when they feel in danger, they become more aggressive during summer and when there are intense smells or perfumes. The health problems caused are usually allergic reactions and food contamination.
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