Mosquitoes: They bite and buzz and suck your blood. If you hate them, you can move indoors for a temporary escape, but if you really hate mosquitoes, you'll have to move — and we mean really far away.
There are only two places in the world that are completely and utterly mosquito-free: Antarctica and Iceland.
The conditions in Antarctica are just too harsh for the annoying pests to survive, says David Denlinger, distinguished university professor in entomology, evolution, ecology and organismal biology at Ohio State University.
Denlinger has traveled to Antarctica several times to study Belgica antarctica, a biting midge (pictured at right) that is the only insect native to the continent.
"They're closely related to mosquitoes. In fact, they look like little wingless mosquitoes. But they don’t bite or do anything like that," says Denlinger.
"It's a hardly little creature that lives encased in ice most of the year ... They have some pretty fancy mechanisms to survive the low temperatures."
Mosquitoes don't have those fancy mechanisms, so they can't survive the extreme temperatures.
Unfortunately, no one really lives in Antarctica, considered on average the coldest, driest and windiest continent on Earth. Instead of permanent residents, there are thousands of people who spend a few weeks or months at research stations studying everything from the weather to the midges.
But we hear Iceland is nice
Yes, there are glaciers, but there are also waterfalls in Iceland. And no mosquitoes ... yet. (Photo: Moyan Brenn/flickr)
If you'd like to go somewhere a little more people-friendly, consider Iceland. You may run into some biting midges there, but no mosquitoes.
You may not want to consider it a long-term plan, however. Some scientists and entomologists are surprised mosquitoes have not taken up residence there.
“It is very strange. People have mentioned various possible explanations, for example that Iceland has an oceanic climate and that they don’t thrive in it, but that’s nonsense,” entomologist Erling Ólafsson commented to ruv.is, a site managed by the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Ólafsson said it's likely a chemical composition of water and ground that keeps the bugs at bay. Ólafsson guesses that mosquitoes could be carried to the country with airplanes or the wind and learn how to adapt to the climate.
"Currently with so much international trade and interaction between different countries, Iceland is no longer the isolated place it once was. It's inevitable that a mosquito will arrive and become established. There's no good reason certain species couldn’t survive there," he says.
A story in ScienceDaily mentioned five places without mosquitoes — including Antarctica and Iceland — but don't get your hopes up that there may be more than two viable alternatives. The article is really talking about malaria and it refers only to Anopheles mosquitoes, which carry the malaria virus. They don't exist in New-Caledonia, the Central Pacific islands, like French Polynesia, and the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean. However, there are plenty of other mosquitoes in those places.
So, what's a mosquito-hater to do?
"Go to Antarctica. That's the best advice I can give. Or Iceland can work too," says Denlinger.
Or just stay inside.
Belgica antarctica photo: Richard Lee/United States Antarctic Program