Provence & Côte d’Azur: Fight against tiger mosquitoes across the region
Tiger mosquitoes on the prowl
With summer on the way, it’s time to start planning for those evening barbecues and walks. Unfortunately, it also means keeping yourself protected against the pesky mosquitoes that enjoy the Mediterranean heat as well. Between the months of May and November is prime time to get bitten and this year scientists in the Alpes Maritimes and the Var are closely monitoring the potentially dangerous tiger mosquitoes, while residents are being urged to cleanse their properties of potential mosquito nests.
First sighted on the Riviera in Menton in 2004, the tiger mosquitoes, also known as Aedes Albopictus, tend to breed in water-filled tree holes. Although initially originating from south-east Asia, in recent years the pests have travelled across Europe, invading large parts of Italy, Spain and the south of France.
From 1st May, the tiger mosquito will be strictly monitored by the French Ministry of Health across the whole of the south of France in a bid to learn more about the dangerous insects. This particular type of mosquito, which is capable of spreading infectious diseases particularly dengue and chikungunya fevers, has already been identified as one of the world’s 100 most invasive species.
Regional health agencies are hoping to educate residents about the small black and white creatures and during the surveillance process, experts will monitor marshes and water sites where the pests seem to originate. A series of "trap nests" will also be put in place across the Alpes Maritimes.
There will be tighter control at the region’s airports, ports and highways to prevent the insects from entering in passenger’s luggage or foreign merchandise.
The President of the Alpes Maritimes, Eric Ciotti, says the project isn’t an attempt to scare residents but rather aims to detect and destroy the insects. “The risk isn’t any greater than in previous years, but it’s apparent that these tiger mosquitoes are present in our department.”
In 2007, the mosquito caused an outbreak of chikungunya fever in the north-eastern Italian province of Ravenna, where more than 200 people were affected and one woman died. A few years later in 2010, there were more cases of dengue and chikungunya fevers in the Var, Nice and Fréjus, but fortunately there weren’t any fatal casualties.
Experts in the UK say that the mosquito could be migrating north as winters become warmer and wetter.
There are steps residents can take to help reduce the chances of harbouring the mosquitos on their properties. The Var General Council recommends the following precautions…
- Remove any stagnant water, particularly in old plant pots in the garden, on terraces and balconies.
- When watering the garden, gently sprinkle water to avoid leaving too much sodden water in the soil.
- Empty saucers under flower pots, vases and buckets at least once a week.
- Cover water supplies (barrels, irrigation tanks and water butts) with a net or a cloth.
- Maintain ponds regularly. You could also put goldfish into the water to help prevent mosquitoes from nesting in the water.
- Maintain pools regularly.
- Make sure gutters and drains are maintained as often as possible to ensure that there is a smooth flow of water.
- There is also a free hotline to call if a tiger mosquito nest is discovered: 0800 740 606. Since it began in 2011, the centre has already received over 3,448 calls and eradicated tiger mosquitoes from a number of sites, including spots in Nice, Cagnes, Biot, Antibes, Carros, Mouans Sartoux, Mougins and Saint Jean Cap Ferrat.