Distribution of the Asian tiger mosquito in the world

The Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) is listed as one of the “100 of the World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species” and it is considered to be the most invasive mosquito species in the world. Over the last three to four decades it has been spread from its native range in tropical and subtropical regions of Southeast Asia around the globe in many countries of America, Europe, Africa, and Oceania. Ae. albopictus was first recorded in 1985 in the Western Hemisphere in Houston, Texas, USA, and that was the beginning of its rapid dispersal in many countries worldwide. Ae. albopictus has been recorded in more than 25 States of the U.S.A. and has been detected in several countries of South America.

The ability of Ae. albopictus to cover long distances by flying is limited and this is why the main way of its dispersal is usually passive transfer. The trade of used tires is considered the main way of dispersal of Ae. albopictus in the Americas. Used tires have proved to be one of the main deposition sites of its eggs, that are resistant to desiccation. The trade of those tires has led to the transfer of its eggs to new regions or even continents.

Ae. albopictus was first recorded in Europe in 1979 on the coast of northern Albania (in the city of Lac) in huge piles of used tires and subsequent investigations demonstrated that the species had been also successfully established in many other parts of the country. Ae. albopictus was subsequently detected in Italy (initially in the area of Genoa) in September 1990, probably due to the international trade of used tires, followed by rapid dispersal in many parts of Central and Northern Italy. Since 1999 Ae. albopictus has been found in many countries of Central and Southern Europe, such as France in 1999, Belgium in 2000, Montenegro in 2001, Switzerland in 2003, Greece in 2003-2004, Croatia in 2004, Spain in 2004, the Bosnia – Herzegovina and Slovenia in 2005, the Netherlands in 2005, Germany in 2007 and Bulgaria and Turkey in 2012. However, Italy is regarded by far the most heavily infested European country by Ae. albopictus.

Another way of the egg and larval dispersal of Ae. albopictus can be through the international trade of tropical ornamental plants of the genus Dracaena, commonly known as “lucky bamboos”. These plants are packed with stagnant water for transportation reasons and constitute a means of transport of the eggs and larvae of Ae. albopictus from Asia to California, USA. In the Netherlands, Ae. albopictus was found in nurseries and greenhouses in which Dracaena sanderiana was introduced from Southern China, a region to which this mosquito species is endemic. Also, the adults and immatures of Ae. albopictus can be transported by road vehicles. The rapid colonization of new habitats and geographical regions in the Northern hemisphere, far away from the areas of origin of Ae. albopictus, is both due to the wide genetic and physiological variability and the ability of ecological adaptation of this species in different climatic conditions mainly through the production of overwintering diapausing eggs by temperate strains of Ae. albopictus.

dAe. albopictus was first recorded in Europe in 1979 on the coast of northern Albania (in the city of Lac) in huge piles of used tires and subsequent investigations demonstrated that the species had been also successfully established in many other parts of the country. Ae. albopictus was subsequently detected in Italy (initially in the area of Genoa) in September 1990, probably due to the international trade of used tires, followed by rapid dispersal in many parts of Central and Northern Italy. Since 1999 Ae. albopictus has been found in many countries of Central and Southern Europe, such as France in 1999, Belgium in 2000, Montenegro in 2001, Switzerland in 2003, Greece in 2003-2004, Croatia in 2004, Spain in 2004, the Bosnia – Herzegovina and Slovenia in 2005, the Netherlands in 2005, Germany in 2007 and Bulgaria and Turkey in 2012. However, Italy is regarded by far the most heavily infested European country by Ae. albopictus.

Another way of the egg and larval dispersal of Ae. albopictus can be through the international trade of tropical ornamental plants of the genus Dracaena, commonly known as “lucky bamboos”. These plants are packed with stagnant water for transportation reasons and constitute a means of transport of the eggs and larvae of Ae. albopictus from Asia to California, USA. In the Netherlands, Ae. albopictus was found in nurseries and greenhouses in which Dracaena sanderiana was introduced from Southern China, a region to which this mosquito species is endemic. Also, the adults and immatures of Ae. albopictus can be transported by road vehicles. The rapid colonization of new habitats and geographical regions in the Northern hemisphere, far away from the areas of origin of Ae. albopictus, is both due to the wide genetic and physiological variability and the ability of ecological adaptation of this species in different climatic conditions mainly through the production of overwintering diapausing eggs by temperate strains of Ae. albopictus.

Editing:
Dr Athanassios Giatropoulos
Agronomist – Entomologist
Email: a.giatropoulos@bpi.gr

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