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Call for state action over growing issue of tiger mosquitoes in France

Can more be done as tiger mosquitoes spread to more communes each year?

Tiger mosquitoes have been present in France since 2005, infesting more communes each year Pic: frank60/shutterstock

La resistance against tiger mosquitoes is gaining momentum. 

1,500 people in the commune of Antony (Hauts-de-Seine, Ile-de-France) have signed a petition calling for a mobilisation against the invasive species, asking ‘what is the mayor doing?’ They demand a campaign of mosquito clearing.

Meanwhile in Châtillon, (Hauts-de-Seine, Ile-de-France), mayor Nadège Azzaz has contacted the regional health agency on behalf of residents, saying that “besides the annoyance of bites, people are worried for their health.” She is demanding a rethink in the support available for communes.

Perhaps people in the south will cast a cold eye on such demands. The black and white stripes of the tiger mosquito, which originates in South East Asia, have become an all too familiar sight there for the past 20 years. 

It was in 2004 that tiger mosquitoes first appeared in Menton near Nice, travelling up the coast from Italy. By 2010 they had fully infested the Mediterranean crescent and seized the Rhone valley as far as Lyon. Five years later, they had infested Paris.

Now, in 2023, they cover most of the country, 71 communes, with only Brittany, the northern coast and the north-east spared. 

The spread of tiger mosquitoes has been relentless since 2004 Pic: Ministère de la Sante

 

Is the north ready for mosquitoes?

With tiger mosquitoes spreading further north with each hot summer, more communes are facing the spread each year.

The mayor of Châtillon says that more can be done: “They only eliminate mosquitoes if we prove a case of dengue fever. What we want is for this method to be reviewed by the regional health agency and the state, which should be giving communes far more support in managing the problem.”

The tiger mosquito’s role in spreading Dengue, chikungunya and zika is of real concern: in 2022, 439 cases of dengue were detected in France, 138 of which were in the Ile-de-France area. 

The majority of these Dengue infections were, so called ‘imported cases’, that is, either people returning from abroad, or people in close proximity to them. However 66 Dengue infections were, worryingly, spread independently. 

10 ‘imported cases’ of chikungunya and one of Zika were also detected.

Read more: Dengue fever cases set to potentially rise in France 

‘Benefiting from warmer weather’

Pierre Tattevin, head of the infectious diseases department at Rennes University Hospital, said that the mosquitoes have been benefiting from the warmer weather of the past two decades.

“The tiger mosquito is much more efficient, active and comfortable at temperatures above 22 or 23C,”  he told France 24, “In warmer weather they fly longer and farther, live longer, and reproduce faster and more rapidly”

What can be done to keep the numbers down?

While large scale mosquito clearing operations can help on a commune level, to keep tiger mosquito numbers down, individuals should:

  • Make sure there are no pools of stagnant water near your house. Emptying all recipients of water, such as plant pots, vases and other open containers People can try putting sand, olive oil or washing up liquid to prevent the growth of larvae in recipients that they cannot empty. 
  • Keep fish in ponds. The fish will eat any larvae present.
  • Cover up rainwater tanks
  • Keep swimming pools chlorinated
  • Not use too much water when gardening. 

Read more: Tiger mosquitoes: How you can help stop their spread in France 

How can we fight mosquitoes in the home?

The first and best line of defence is a mosquito net, preferably positioned over all windows and doors. But in addition, the nuisance value of mosquitoes can be reduced by:

  • A fan stirring the air, which can prevent them from flying steadily
  • Air conditioning under 18°C, which is anathema to mosquitoes
  • Light coloured, loose clothing that does not retain heat will attract mosquitoes less that tight, dark clothing
  • Showering, which can make your skin smell less attractive to mosquitoes.

Anyone who finds an area to be particularly infested by tiger mosquitoes should signal on the ANSES platform.

 

Related articles:

First case of mosquito-spread virus identified in south-west France 

Tiger mosquitoes: new case of native dengue fever confirmed in France 

Can I make my French neighbours drain stagnant water from their land? 

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