THEME

MEMO PROJECT - EXOTIC MOSQUITOES IN BELGIUM

Is the number of exotic mosquito in Belgium on the rise? It is one of the questions that ITM scientists are seeking to answer. Together with their partners, they monitor 23 risk sites across Belgium, places where exotic species are most likely to enter our country.

Exotic mosquitoes, such as the tiger mosquito, are spreading as a result of increased globalisation and climate change. They were able to establish themselves in Southern Europe and now have also been spotted in Belgium. The tiger mosquito is a small but fierce creature with a painful bite, that can also transmit viral diseases. The species originally came from Southeast Asia but has now spread to Europe and America due to international transport of goods, global warming and its ability to adapt. Early detection enables better control. Even if these species manage to establish themselves here, it is important to closely monitor populations.

This three-year project is financed by the Flemish, Walloon and Brussels governments and the FPS Public Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment in the context of the National Environment and Health Action Plan (NEHAP).

Het MEMO-team of the Institute of Tropical Medicine

Exotic species spotted in Belgium since August 2017

Researchers are monitoring 23 locations in Belgium. They are focusing on the most likely first entry points for exotic mosquitoes. These locations include companies trading in second-hand tires, lucky bamboo importers, ports, airports and parking areas along the border.

Aedes albopictus

Aedes albopictus

Also known as: 'Asian Tiger mosquito'
Spotted in: East Flanders, Hainaut, Namur, Luxembourg
First sighting in Belgium? No, the mosquito was spotted in Belgium for the first time in 2000. and sporadically afterwards.

Characteristics

  • The Asian tiger mosquito is very small (see photo comparison with one eurocent below) has contrasting black and white stripes on its body and black and white striped legs with white tips.
  • It has a white stripe down its back
  • The proboscis (part that pierces the skin) is white at the end

Aedes japonicus

Aedes japonicus

Also known as: 'Asian forest mosquito'
Spotted in: Namur and Liège
First sighting in Belgium? No, the mosquito was spotted for the first time in Namur in 2002. Between 2012 and 2015 measures to control the mosquito were taken, but in 2017 this species was spotted again in the same location in Namur. The mosquito was captured for the first time near the German border in 2017.

Characteristics

  • Contrasting black and white stripes on its body, black and white striped legs with black tip
  • Brownish stripes on the back
  • Black proboscis (syringe-like mouthpart)

Aedes koreicus

Aedes koreicus

Spotted in: a small-size population has settled near Maasmechelen
First sighting in Belgium? No, this mosquito was spotted for the first time in Belgium in 2008. Meanwhile, the population is well established in an area of 113 km².

Characteristics

  • Contrasting black and white body stripes on its body and black and white striped legs with black-striped tip
  • Brownish stripes on the back
  • Black proboscis

Anopheles pharoensis

Anopheles pharoensis

Spotted in: Liège
First time in Belgium? Yes, in 2017 one mosquito was detected at Liège airport. However, the survival rate in Belgium is small as our temperate climate is not suitable for this species.

Characteristics

  • Long proboscis covered with scales
  • Wing spots

Avoiding mosquitoes

Both indigenous and exotic mosquitoes can sometimes be a real nuisance. Even your own garden is a large potential breeding ground. However, there are some precautions you can take to keep these insects at a safe distance.

Tires filled with rain water are an ideal breeding spot.

Get rid of stagnant water

Mosquitoes like to lay their eggs in stagnant water. Get rid of left-over water in buckets, flower pots, clogged gutters, wheelbarrows, tires, plastic netting, litter, etc. Cover rain barrels with mosquito netting. Regularly change the drinking bowls of your pets, to avoid these becoming a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Install insect screens

Insect screens for windows and doors are most effective if you want to keep mosquitoes out of your home. These fine mesh screens are fitted in door and window encasements and prevent insects from entering your house the easy way.

Protect yourself

Insect repellent sprays and mosquito nets are the most effective means to protect yourself against mosquitoes.

 

Partners

ITM carries out the MEMO project together with the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS), the Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA), and Barcoding of Organisms and Tissues of Policy Concern (BopCo). With the support of Avia-GIS, the VECMAP information system is used for the integration of field and laboratory data.

.