Thursday, December 9

Aedes albopictus | The tiger mosquito invades nine out of ten municipalities in Alicante

In 2021, this species is already present in eight out of ten municipalities in the Community and in nine out of ten Alicante municipalities. In less than two years it has entered 123 new localities, and already has a presence in 458 of the 542 municipalities of the Community. According to the latest data published by the Ministry of Health as a result of the periodic controls carried out by the Entomology and Pest Control Laboratory of the University of Valencia, this species has entered 84% of the municipalities.

The tiger mosquito invades nine out of ten Alicante municipalities

By provinces, Alicante is the most affected region, where he tiger mosquito it is practically in the whole territory. Of 141 municipalities, this invasive species is present in 132, which represents almost 94 percent of the entire province. Less than a dozen are free from the presence of the mosquito, specifically Biar, Millena, Benillup, Facheca, Benifallim, Penáguila, Benifato and Guadalest.

In Valencia, for its part, the insect has reached 90%. Only the inland areas are free from their bite, where the insect has more complicated implantation due to the cold, since it is typical of a tropical climate. Of 266 municipalities throughout the province, 240 have it.

Finally, Castellón is the territory least affected by this plague, although it already affects more than half of all localities. Of 135 municipalities, 86 have the tiger mosquito.

In 2019, according to data from the UV Entomology Laboratory, the insect was present in 62 percent of Valencian territory. According to the latest Health update, this invasive species already affects 84 percent.

Luciente, from Zaragoza, explains that the main transmission factor, and the one responsible for this mosquito having invaded almost everything, is the roads. “We have seen how the mosquito has always been transmitted through cars, when it gets on with people. In Aragon, for example, many detection sources are at gas stations, ”he explains. The mosquito moves as a co-pilot with people.

Disease vector

As indicated by the Department of Health in the “vector program of relevance to Public Health in the Valencian Community”, this mosquito has the ability to act as a vector of diseases such as Dengue and Chikungunya, although it can also serve as a transmitter of other viruses such as Zika, although to date there have not been more than 25 cases of these diseases in the Valencian Community. Females, if infected with the virus, can pass it on to their offspring.

The tiger mosquito usually bites during the day, in the morning or afternoon zones, unlike most mosquitoes that become active at night, says Lucientes. Although it has a period of activity that changes according to the weather, in the Community it is active throughout the year, but the period of greatest movement usually occurs between the months of May and November. It is common for it to make several bites in a row, since the female needs to feed several times and, although they tend to bite in outdoor areas, it can also occur indoors.

Invader and dangerous

Although its appearance dates back 15 years, Lucientes says that eliminating the presence of this mosquito is “impossible” at this point. “We are working to keep the population to a minimum and cause the least possible inconvenience, but this situation will no longer be able to be reversed,” he explains.

It is a mosquito, he continues, adapted to the European climate, and it proliferates more easily in coastal areas and large cities. It is there where the perfect cocktail for this invasive species is given: a temperature several degrees higher than usual, the presence of water in which to lay eggs and, above all, huge amounts of food (accumulation of people).

It is a mosquito from Indochina, which arrived in Spain in 2004, where it was found in an area of ​​chalets, next to a motorway in Barcelona. As in Valencia, “we have the theory that it arrived thanks to one of the trucks, which brought it from abroad,” says Lucientes.

Although the mosquito is not hostile against the native species, its danger lies in the fact that it is much more effective when laying eggs than the traditional species of our territory. In addition, these larvae last longer without hatching. The key: the female deposits them in areas that she knows will be flooded instead of in stagnant water that can dry out (as the local species does, causing some young to die), and her young need much less water to get out. ahead.

The second detected mosquito entered from the other end of Valencia. Lucientes detected him in a villa in Benicàssim, near a well-known music festival. He says that nothing was done then. “Nobody thought it could expand so much,” he adds.

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