A new location for mosquito research: Europe

Students from countries in the Tropics, from Thailand, Madagascar and Benin, to the United States have looked at mosquitoes and their connection to climate change.  GLOBE International Scientist Network members Dr. Krisanadej Jaroensutasinee and Dr. Mullica Jaroensutasinee presented their research on mosquitoes and dengue fever in Thailand in a post just under a year ago.  Additionally, a student from Roswell-Kent Middle School in Ohio, United States, examined whether or not there was a connection between Malaria and climate change and presented her research at the First Student Research Exhibition in 2012.  Now, the climate in the Balkan region as well as north-west Europe is becoming a prime breeding location for the Aedes albopictus, or the Asian Tiger mosquito, as scientists in Liverpool have discovered.

Asian Tiger Mosquito.  From The Center for Invasive Species Research, University of California, Riverside

Asian Tiger Mosquito. From The Center for Invasive Species Research, University of California, Riverside

Beginning in Albania in 1979, this breed of mosquito was introduced into Europe through the transport of goods from its native region of Southeast Asia.  Since then, the population has increased dramatically and has spread to more than 15 countries along Europe’s southern edge.  Additionally, these regions have seen increasingly milder winters and warmer summers, which lend themselves to prime conditions for mosquito larvae to survive.

The Asian Tiger mosquito is known for transmitting various diseases, such as West Nile, yellow fever, dengue, St. Louis and Japanese encephalitis, and chikungyuna.  And while it is native to Southeast Asia, the species has become well adapted to life in a more temperature climate.  It has been found, in fact, that the eggs of the Asian Tiger mosquito living in temperature climates are more cold resistant than their counterparts in tropical climates.  In addition to Southeast Asia and Europe, there are Asian Tiger Mosquitos living in the Americas, the Caribbean, Africa and the Middle East.

Since 2005, the Asian Tiger Mosquito has been blamed for outbreaks of some of these vector-borne diseases in France, Italy and Croatia.  It is feared that as the climate in these regions continues to change, that the frequency of vector-borne diseases will increase.  To support this suspicion, the European Centre for Disease Control used widely-used computer models to simulate weather records for the years of 2030-2050.  They found similar trends of warming continuing, allowing the mosquito to spread to northern Europe.

Suggested Activity: Get involved in mosquito climate research now.  Start by getting involved in the Great Global Investigation of Climate and taking air temperature, soil temperature and precipitation measurements. You can then take these data and connect to the number of reported cases of one of the vector-borne diseases. And make sure to let us know about your research.  You can tell us about it through the GLOBE website or our Facebook Page.

-Jessica Mackaro

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2 Responses to A new location for mosquito research: Europe

  1. Ray Webber says:

    Not only are mosquitoes spreading into cooler areas that are getting warmer over the years, they are becoming active for longer in places like Australia so for some areas there is now no mosquito free period in the year

  2. Jason says:

    Ray makes a very valid point. Though I haven’t seen anything about this particular mosquito before, the varieties here in NW Florida are enjoying a much longer period of activity. I’ve lived here for only 8 years and have noticed a marked difference in the months of March and October. The first couple years I spent in this area, you could enjoy the outdoors during early spring and fall without the annoyance of constant mosquito attack.