Everything you wanted to know about Greenland Mosquitoes

Lisa Germany
Verified Expert

It is weird to think that Greenland (as well as most of the rest of the Arctic) has a bit of a mosquito problem. We generally associate these irritating creatures with warm and humid climates, but during the warmer months at the top of the world, you need to be prepared. Read on to discover how to deal with Greenland’s summertime annoyance.

Hiker wearing a head net during a hike on summer vacation in Greenland
A head net is a must-have for a Summer vacation in Greenland

When is the best time to visit Greenland to avoid mosquitoes?

A: Avoid Summer: mid-June to end-August

Generally, the mosquito season in the most visited parts of Greenland is between mid-June and end-August. The pupa (which have hibernated under the ice all Winter) hatch as soon as the ice melts from the shallow pools of water that dot the landscape, and they waste no time making the most of their very short lives.

Unfortunately, climate change is having an enormous impact on Greenland, and the seasons are becoming more unpredictable. If you arrive outside of the mosquito season but discover they have arrived early or are lingering late, you can purchase protection in Greenland.

Where are mosquitoes found in Greenland?

A: Everywhere except the Ice Sheet

Mosquitoes are found wherever there are shallow pools of water and a nearby source of blood. This doesn’t have to be human blood, remember there are also reindeer, musk ox, and several other species of Arctic animal in the ice-free areas of Greenland.

Hikers exploring the Greenland ice sheet near Kangerlussuaq
Exploring the Greenland Ice Sheet near Kangerlussuaq

Your best chance of escaping the mosquitoes is venture up onto the Ice Sheet, or linger very close to the ocean. A slight sea-breeze will generally keep them away from you, so a perfect time to head out on a boat tour.

Are the Arctic mosquitoes as huge and terrorizing as I’ve read?

A: No. Not usually.

There are several articles on the internet that talk about mosquitoes large enough to kill a reindeer calf, and swarms so thick it feels apocalyptic. While that may happen, the more usual experience for a visitor is nowhere near as bad.

For the most part, they are simply annoying. And if you adopt the approaches discussed below, you should not have too many problems.

Cute dog wearing a head net in Greenland during the summer
Even the dogs wear headnets in Greenland during the Summer

Do Greenland mosquitoes carry diseases?

A: Greenland mosquitoes do not carry diseases.

Mosquitoes have a pretty bad reputation as disease-carrying menaces – and with good reason! Fortunately, the mosquitoes in Greenland do not carry any diseases, they are more of an annoyance than anything.

That being said, this may change in the future if temperatures continue to rise. While the Greenland mosquitoes may remain disease-free, higher temperatures may allow other disease-bearing mosquitoes to survive in Greenland.

Hiker protected from mosquitos by head net during a hike in Greenland
Nothing to worry about here, despite the large number of mosquitoes

How do I protect myself from the mosquitoes?

A: Use several of the following methods to guard yourself from Greenland’s mosquitoes.

While it is impossible to avoid the mosquitoes if you are visiting Greenland during the Summer, there are several measures you can use keep them at bay.

  1. Local remedy: Labrador tea (Qajaasat). Crush the leaves by rubbing them between your hands and apply the juice to any exposed skin
  2. Wear a head net. You will not look silly. Well, OK. You will. But you will certainly not be the only one! Greenlanders also wear head nets during the Summer and even the dogs have them!
  3. Wear insect repellent. Nobody likes wearing insect repellent, but it could help to save your sanity!
  4. Wear long clothing. While the most determined mosquitoes may still be able to bite through long clothing, it does help. Fortunately, the temperatures in Greenland (even in the Summer) mean that wearing long clothing is not much of an issue usually.
Hiker eating while wearing a head net during a hike in the Summer in Greenland
Eating while hiking with a head net during Summer in Greenland. Don’t forget you have it on!

You can buy head nets and insect repellent almost anywhere in Greenland (usually in the supermarket). However, you may want to bring these from your home country if you have a preferred brand, or in case stocks in the town you are visiting have sold out (can happen in smaller settlements).

Will the Arctic mosquitoes ruin my experience of Greenland?

A: No. Generally the mosquitoes are only a small (if annoying) part of experiencing Greenland during Summer.

Greenland is a spectacularly beautiful country with a fascinating culture. While the mosquitoes may be a little annoying, if you follow the suggestions for keeping them at bay, you will have a wonderful experience and an unforgettable trip.

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