Asian Tiger Mosquito Invasion in France, A Cause for Serious Concern

Asian Tiger Mosquito Invasion in France, A Cause for Serious Concern

The worsening climate change makes it a perfect setting for a female Asian tiger mosquito to breed and spread across France. This raises serious concerns because of the deadly diseases it carries and inflicts on people and animals.

Small But Terrible Asian Tiger Mosquito

It may be tiny (3mm) but these parasitic insects are massive migrants, managing to spread throughout France in two decades. Initially spotted in the country in 2004, the tiger mosquito population has now expanded in 71 of the country’s 96 mainland départements. Health officials put these areas on red alert, citing the dangerous species both lives and breed in the said regions.

Also called the forest mosquito, the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), is an unusual species. It derived its name from the single white stripe down the centre of its head and back. These insects bite during the daytime and it’s the female that sucks blood while males feed on nectar.

Moreover, female ones are inseminated once in their life cycle. They can store male sperm they will use to fertilise their eggs throughout their lives. These eggs can tolerate dryness for months or even years.

The tiger mosquito bites its victim to acquire blood proteins for its eggs. At the same time, it releases the virus through its saliva. A single bite can make the victim ill with Zika virus, Chikungunya, Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), and dengue fever.

Massive Expanse Causes Serious Concern

The Asian tiger mosquito population continues to multiply and spread throughout France. It’s hard to ignore this occurrence because this type of mosquito carries disease-causing illnesses, which can lead to death.

As France endures more extreme temperatures, tiger mosquitoes take advantage of the perfect setting to lay their eggs on anything that holds stagnant water. This includes used containers, tyres, ponds, cans, or bottles.

In 2004, France reported the first sighting of Asian tiger mosquitoes in the country. Menton was the home to the insect’s first breeding place. Consequently, it made its way through the country on trains, trucks, or cars.

According to Rennes University Hospital’s infectious diseases department, Pierre Tattevin, the proliferation of these mosquitoes in France wasn’t excessive, but continuous. He added that each year, there have been nearly four or five new départments afflicted. The invasive insects can now be seen close to the English Channel, moving north in Britain.

“Human activity allowed for the spread of this mosquito. In under four decades, the tiger mosquito has conquered the tropical and subtropical world. For its cousin, the Aedes aegypti … it took 400 years.” says Anna-Bella  Failloux, France’s Pasteur Institute’s medical entomologist.

Last year, France’s health officials documented 65 indigenous cases of dengue fever. People who became ill contracted the virus locally and not overseas. This year, no indigenous cases were reported, experts, however, say the country is more exposed to the tiger mosquitoes’ infectious diseases due to climate change.

Image Credit: Anuj/Pexels

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