WINTER has brought little respite for the hundreds of thousands of residents in the south of France being driven to distraction by mosquitos which have benefited from the wet and very mild winter.
Swarms of mosquitos have been coming off the stagnant pools of floodwater left behind by the storms in the Var and Languedoc-Roussillon and the normal winter break without bites has been very short.
Mosquitos were still in evidence all along the Mediterranean until late in November and have been annoyingly active since mid-February, two months earlier than usual.
In Languedoc-Roussillon more than 100 workers are out spraying organic pesticides on open water areas and going round homes advising residents to drain away any water lying in watering cans, flowerpots and other containers.
Female mosquitos need fresh blood while their eggs develop and will lay up to 200 eggs each time which, with plenty of stagnant water, just need the heat of the sun to give perfect conditions for them to grow and lay more.
One chemist in Marseille told RTL Radio: “It’s crazy we’re putting out anti-mosquito and anti-itch remedies out alongside the lip-balm for people heading to the ski slopes!”
There is also a strong risk of more tiger mosquitos, with the Gironde being added to the list of departments put on alert as these can pass on diseases such as dengue fever and chikungunya – although no cases have been recorded in mainland France so far.
So-called for their black and white stripings on legs and body, the tiger mosquito is known so far in Alpes-Maritimes (since 2004), Haute-Corse (2006), Corse du Sud and Var (2007), Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and Bouches-du-Rhône (2010), Gard, Hérault and Vaucluse (2011), and Lot-et-Garonne, Pyrénées Orientales, Aude, Haute-Garonne, Drôme, Ardèche, Isère and Rhône since 2012.