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Tiger mosquitoes are breeding outside main summer months in Malaga, scientific study reveals
Nature

Tiger mosquitoes are breeding outside main summer months in Malaga, scientific study reveals

As well as painful bites caused by the females, the pests are capable of transmitting various diseases to humans, such as dengue

Europa Press

Malaga

Tuesday, 12 March 2024, 09:29

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Invasive tiger mosquitoes are lingering longer in Malaga province and well outside the summer months, according to experts.

Scientists from the University of Granada, Doñana Biological Station (EBD-CSIC) and Bioparc Fuengirola, studied the movements of tiger mosquito populations in Malaga and Granada, and found they are now breeding throughout much of the year.

The tiger mosquito, originally from Southeast Asia, has been deemed an invasive species in Spain. In addition to causing discomfort through bites from females, it is capable of transmitting various diseases to humans, such as dengue fever.

Tiger mosquito numbers have increased significantly across the globe in recent decades. It is considered one of the top 100 most harmful invasive species on the planet due to its ability to adapt and colonise new areas, as well as to spread different viruses. In Spain, it was first detected in Barcelona in 2004, but soon became established in other provinces, and one of the areas of recent colonisation is the south of the country.

Study

To carry out the study, tiger mosquito populations were sampled in five locations across Malaga and Granada provinces. The presence of the mosquito was confirmed in all the locations sampled, although species such as the common mosquito (Culex pipiens) showed a greater abundance in this region.

CSIC pointed out the mosquitoes are most active between May and November, which is most of the year. The study found differences between the different locations sampled, suggesting the environment plays a role in the number of mosquitoes present.

Wherever there is water

Wherever there is water, there are generally tiger mosquitoes as they need water to breed. "Although our study was not optimised to identify differences between habitat types, we were able to observe that the highest captures corresponded to the urban area of the province of Malaga, while the less urban area of Granada was where we captured the lowest abundance of invasive mosquitoes," said University of Granada researcher Mario Garrido.

Feeds on blood

The tiger mosquito feeds most frequently on the blood of humans, but may occasionally feed on the blood of other animals, including other mammals and birds.

"This study is the first to identify the population movements throughout the year in the Andalucía region, which is a first estimate to know the significance of this species in the environment and to be able to draw up management strategies," said Josué Martínez de la Puente, a CSIC researcher at the Doñana Biological Station. He recommended avoiding the accumulation of water in flowerpots and around the garden to prevent the insects from entering your home.

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