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Tiger mosquitos reproduce in Belgium for the first time

15:06 19/08/2023

This year, for the first time, Belgian researchers have discovered a colony of tiger mosquitoes that have survived the winter and are reproducing.

This is a cause for concern, as these tropical insects - which are smaller and more aggressive than our native varieties with characteristic black and white stripes - spread tropical illnesses such as dengue fever and Zika virus.

Tiger mosquitoes arrived in Belgium a few years ago, imported from Asia with bamboo or car tyres, for example.

In 2022, researchers reported sightings in different places in Belgium, in particular in Lebbeke, East Flanders, where they are still present, Isra Deblauw, entomologist at Antwerp’s Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITG), told RTBF.

"We started a new monitoring exercise this year and we observed a new colony of tiger mosquitoes in the same place," she said. "And we found eggs again. This means that this year there has been a reproduction in exactly the same place. It is probably a hibernation.”

If the mosquitoes stay, the diseases they cause could develop in Belgium. Someone from Lebbeke could, for example, catch dengue fever in Brazil and return to Lebbeke. Then a tiger mosquito could bite this infected person and then his neighbour, who could therefore catch the disease without travelling.

Deblauw said that a specialised firm will aim to get rid of the tiger mosquitoes in Lebbeke, but warned that they are very difficult to exterminate.

The rise of the tiger mosquito was already seen last year. Between May and end October 2022, Sciensano and the ITG received about 300 reports of sightings, with the mosquito identified in 12 locations, much more than expected.

Written by Liz Newmark