Belgium faces growing presence of tiger mosquitoes
Last year, tiger mosquitoes were detected at 25 locations in Belgium, more than double the 12 sites in 2022. For the first time, they were also found in Brussels and Wallonia. The tiger mosquito is an invasive species that can carry and transmit tropical viruses.
The Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) in Antwerp and Sciensano, in collaboration with the citizen science platform 'MuggenSurveillance' (Mosquito Surveillance), are tracking the spread of tiger mosquitoes through citizen reports and monitoring of motorway car parks.
Tiger mosquitoes were spotted in two locations where they were also seen in 2022: Lebbeke and Wilrijk, Antwerp. "This indicates that the mosquito species overwinters in these municipalities," says the ITM. For the first time, the species has also been reported in Brussels and Wallonia.
The tiger mosquito is spreading northwards in Europe due to climate change. In Belgium, the species is increasingly being brought in by returning holidaymakers and goods transport. In some countries, local transmission of the tropical viruses dengue and chikungunya has already occurred.
"It is important to delay the establishment and spread of the tiger mosquito as long as possible," argues ITM entomologist Isra Deblauwe. Citizens can help by thoroughly cleaning rain barrels, flower pots and gutters in the winter to remove eggs from the sides. "From May onwards, at the start of the mosquito season, it is also important to regularly remove standing water from terraces and gardens," adds the ITM.
Anyone who thinks they have seen a tiger mosquito can report it via the 'MuggenSurveillance' website and app.
© Valery HACHE / AFP