Climate change is driving the Asian tiger mosquito to Bavaria

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Von: Tanja Kipke


Dengue fever, West Nile and Zika virus: The Asian tiger mosquito can transmit tropical diseases. The mosquito has already arrived in Bavaria, climate change favors its spread.

Munich – Bill Gates refers to mosquitoes in his blog as the “deadliest animal in the world”. The annoying mosquitoes claim over 725,000 lives every year because they transmit infections. At the forefront is the Asian tiger mosquito, which can transmit tropical diseases such as dengue, chikungunya or the Zika virus. And also the West Nile virus. According to the Bavarian State Office for Health and Food Safety (LGL), it is “the mosquito species that spreads most successfully”, and specimens have also been repeatedly detected in Bavaria since 2015. One reason for the spread is climate change.

West Nile virus in Bavaria: Asian tiger mosquito could transmit tropical disease

According to the LGL, the tiger mosquito prefers warmth, which is probably the reason “why stable populations in Europe are still limited to the south.” However, the mosquito has already adapted to the European climate situation: “Eggs laid in autumn overwinter and the larvae hatch not until next spring.” The mosquito has already been discovered at twelve locations in Bavaria, according to a report by BR Wissens.

The tiger mosquito is known to transmit dengue fever. However, transmission of the Zika or West Nile virus is also possible. So far, however, the mosquito does not seem to transmit any viruses – at least this has not yet been proven in a tiger mosquito in Bavaria. According to BR, there were 20 cases of the virus in Bavaria in 2020, and the disease ended fatally once. However, experts estimate the number of unreported cases to be several hundred. The virus was often discovered in people returning from travel.

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Threat for Bavaria still low: LGL explains why measures are still necessary

At present, the health risk to the Bavarian population from the Asian tiger mosquito is still low. However, a scenario is conceivable “that a virus-infected travel returnee is bitten by a tiger mosquito, which absorbs the virus and then, in individual cases, transmits it to another person during another blood meal,” according to the LGL. Climate change favors the spread of the tiger mosquito and also increases the risk of tropical viruses thriving in this country.

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According to the LGL, general preventive measures and specific mosquito monitoring of the tiger mosquito make sense. One is “very much dependent on the cooperation of the population”. To prevent the spread, the following measures are important:

  • All objects in which rainwater can accumulate – e.g. B. buckets, old tires, vases, coasters from flower pots, drains, rain barrels or bird baths – should be removed to destroy possible breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
  • Since copper kills larvae, copper flower vases can be used.
  • In the event of a massive occurrence of the Asian tiger mosquito, the use of electrically powered suction traps can significantly reduce the number of mosquitoes.
  • Egg-laying traps, which kill or immobilize mosquitoes trying to lay eggs, can be set up. That would be e.g. B. pyrethroid-impregnated nets or adhesive films.

Asian tiger mosquito: How do you recognize the mosquito?

In addition to the measures listed above, it is also important to recognize and report the tiger mosquito. Suspicious mosquitoes can be sent to the Citizen Science project ‘Mosquito Atlas’ for precise identification. You can find more information at: 177,000 mosquitoes have already been caught for research.

The Asian tiger mosquito (left) is often confused with the native ringworm (right). © dpa/KEYSTONE/Ennio Leanza/IMAGO/blickwinkel ( collage)

A tiger mosquito can be recognized by very specific characteristics. “First of all, the biting behavior is striking: This mosquito bites mainly outdoors during the day, more rarely also in the apartment and is very persistent,” says the LGL. Visually, it is very similar to the so-called ringworm, with its black and white “ringed” discoloration. The ringworm is usually larger and more beige. In addition, she does not have a white line on her head, which is typical for the Asian tiger mosquito. (tkip)

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