The Unofficial Mosquito-Catching World Championship – Övertorneå N, Sweden - Atlas Obscura

The Unofficial Mosquito-Catching World Championship

Övertorneå N, Sweden

A Swedish town came up with an out-of-the-box way to eliminate the bloodthirsty insects. 


What is a tiny Swedish town to do after getting its application to chemically fight a recurring mosquito infestation denied? Arrange the (unofficial) World Championship in Mosquito Catching, of course!

It all began in 2015 in the town of Övertorneå, a northern town near Sweden’s border with Finland, when someone came up with the idea of using the mass influx of mosquitoes to the town’s advantage.

The rules are simple. At the start of the competition, the contestants run out into a predetermined patch of shrubbery that has been designated for the contest. Some stalk their targets while others sit patiently and wait for their prey to come to them. Whoever catches and kills the most mosquitoes in 15 minutes is the new World Champion. Anyone can sign up. In 2017, the winner was awarded 10,000 SEK (which is about $1,220) and a mosquito trap.

To increase their chances at bagging the most kills, contestants frequently attempt to make themselves sweaty and stinky before the event begins, by either running around or skipping a few day’s worth of showers. Many also wear black, as dark colors are believed to attract mosquitos. Being bitten by the pesky targets is an aspect of the challenge the competitors must endure and overcome.

The World Championship in Mosquito Catching has become a recurring event in the town of Övertorneå. Even if it kills far fewer mosquitoes than any pesticide would have done, it makes an impact. Participants in the 2016 competition caught a grand total of about 600 mosquitos.

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