Residents in southern France have reported a spike in tiger mosquitoes, according to local news source France3, while residents in Normandy especially have reported a rise in the appearance of hundreds of tiny, shiny insects.
These have been identified as “flea beetles” (known as “altises” in French), said François Radigue, founding member of the Orne department environmental association l’Association Faune et Flore de l’Orne (AFFO) in Normandy.
He told local newspaper Ouest-France: “[They are numerous this year] due to the completely exceptional weather conditions, and the absence of rain that destroys their larvae.”
He added that the insects are “particularly attracted by the colour yellow”, and said that their presence “will continue all summer”.
A summer invasion?
Flea beetles especially can be damaging to plants and crops.
Yet, insect expert Samuel Jolivet, director of insect office l’Office pour les Insectes et leur Environnement (OPIE), told news source BFMTV that the increase in insects is “nothing to worry about”.
He said: “The beginning of the month of June is generally characterised by a peak in the presence of adult [insects] in our environment, insects that can fly. The winter was particularly mild and spring was equally very clement, which has both increased flowering, and the presence of insects, which did not suffer in bad weather.”
Mr Jolivet added that the noticeable increase in flea beetles and other insects did not necessarily mean that the country was set to suffer a total insect “invasion” come even hotter temperatures later this summer.
He said: “The population cycle for each species is not the same from one year to the next. For example, the growth of dragonfly larva takes place in a pond. If there was not enough water one year, the population declines the following year.
“Similarly, mosquito larvae develop in water, and have had difficulty growing in dry weather. But conversely, other insects are actually favored by good weather, such as the honeybee, which had has more time to forage from flower to flower."
He added that there was no reason to worry, and that a rise in insects in the environment is actually “a sign of hope”.
One internet user suggested a way to deal with the flea beetles especially: “Put a yellow vest [or T-shirt] on the grass. It’s amazing. The [insects] go towards it, and leave us to eat in peace on the terrace.”
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