Culex Pipiens Molestus
No, it is not the name of a London Underground stop, or the name of a Roman emperor, or an extinct species of humans that lived in prehistoric times, but the owner of the name Culex Pipiens Molestus is a small and annoying flying insect: the mosquito.
And you are probably wondering why this mosquito is so special that it deserves an article.
Well, it so happens that this little insect has the honour of being the only mosquito to have evolved inside the London Underground, so it's worth investigating why, don't you think?
The Culex Pipiens Molestus mosquito is a subspecies of the Culex Pipiens family, i.e. they are first cousins. At first they were all Culex Pipiens and lived happily flying around, but an unexpected event caused a few members of this large family to end up underground.
It all started during the Second World War, when the Germans were flying over London dropping bombs from time to time. At the time, the tunnels through which the city's underground would run were being built, and at that time they served a much more practical purpose that probably saved many lives: they were air raid shelters. Londoners would go to these tunnels during the countless nights of bombing and stay there until it was all over.
The facilities in these tunnels were not exactly like those of a five-star hotel, quite the contrary. Hygiene was conspicuous by its absence and instead of a swimming pool there was stagnant water, which made the tunnels the ideal spa for a very select type of guests, such as rats, ticks, lice, fleas and various other bugs. They were delighted with life, all wearing all-in wristbands, roaming free and enjoying all the comforts of the surroundings.
Obviously, one of the regular guests of the tunnels was our friend Culex Pipiens, who spent time in his usual habitat, the outside, and occasionally went underground to enjoy the surroundings and also, of course, to avoid being caught by surprise by a bomb.
Anyway, in the end, the London Underground was completed and many of the tunnels that had been dug were sealed off and isolated from the surface, which was not reported to the mosquitoes that roamed around. Unaware of what bipedal beings called humans were doing, they continued their stay in the tunnels and oh surprise! When they wanted to go outside they discovered that they could not get out, they were trapped.
After the confusion that such a situation creates, the mosquitoes unanimously decided that they were not going to die in there, but would do their best to survive. It should be noted that the survival instinct of living beings is very strong, and those mosquitoes were not going to be any different.
The first problem to be solved was the issue of food, as Culex Pipiens fed essentially on the blood of birds, which, lo and behold, were found on the surface. So their diet became the blood of rats and humans, the latter being their favourite.
The issue of the family name was probably the second thing to be discussed, as it was related to the issue of food. To be able to bite a human and come out of the mission unscathed was no easy task, it required a very advanced and revolutionary technique that consisted of hovering around the chosen victim, finding the right moment when the human was a bit distracted and then attacking. The mosquitoes noticed that humans addressed them using the same word recurrently, and this word was "annoying", "Molestus" in latin, hence the new subspecies of mosquitoes came to be called "Culex Pipiens Molestus".
Another aspect that changed compared to their colleagues outside was that they did not hibernate. Outside, it was easy to know what season it was, and so everyone was aware of when to go to sleep. In the underground world, however, the mosquitoes did not have this information, although if they had noticed the clothes the humans were wearing, they might have had a clue.
The way they mated was also altered. Outdoors, to mate and reproduce, the mosquitoes swarmed together, and they could do this because they had plenty of space. In the case of the mosquitoes in the underground, as there were far fewer of them and they didn't have as much space, grouping together didn't seem logical. How did they solve this? Well, each individual made its own way, approached a potential mate and if they liked each other, they mated and then moved on.
This is basically the story of this mosquito that evolved in the London Underground. Although only this subspecies is called "Molestus", it has to be said that the name could be extended to all mosquitoes in general, as it is not at all pleasant for humans to be bitten by these bugs. Fortunately, we are also capable of devising gadgets and various products to combat the Culex Pipiens Molestus or any other mosquito that dares to approach us with the intention of eating our blood.