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Asian tiger mosquito in Germany: how to protect yourself - symptoms & treatment

It is considered a flying security risk: the Asian tiger mosquito can transmit dangerous viruses. They are now also available in Germany. How to recognize and control mosquitoes and how to treat bites.

The Asian tiger mosquito (Stegomyia albopicta / Aedes albopictus) feels particularly comfortable in a mild and very humid climate. The bloodsucker can be recognized by the striking black and white pattern.

Tiger mosquitoes in Germany

There are around 50 mosquito species in Germany - including the Asian tiger mosquito. The animals, which are already widespread in Italy, came to Germany through long-distance travel in recent years. The warmth-loving tiger mosquito was discovered for the first time at the end of September 2007 at a rest area on Autobahn 5 near Weil am Rhein (Baden-Württemberg).

There is evidence of the mosquito in Heidelberg, Karlsruhe and Freiburg, among others. They can also occur along the Hockenheim-Koblenz (A61) and Saarbrücken-Mannheim (A6) motorways. The tiger mosquito has already overwintered in three federal states: Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Thuringia.

Symptoms: swelling and itching

Mosquito bite: If you have severe reactions to a tiger mosquito bite, see a doctor. (Source: Gottfried Czepluch / imago images)

The bites of the tiger mosquito are in principle no worse or more painful than the domestic mosquitoes. After the bite, the skin itches and there is redness and swelling at the puncture site.

See a doctor if the sting is very large and hot to the touch. This could indicate a serious allergic reaction or inflammation.

Treat the bite of the tiger mosquito

Mosquito bites - no matter what kind - can generally become infected by scratching. Therefore, you should treat a bite of the tiger mosquito as follows:

  1. Do not scratch. Because with it you open the door for germs and risk inflammation.
  2. Brief heat treatment can provide relief. First, place a hot washcloth on the stitch or use a stitch healer.
  3. Then cool the stitch. Cold water or even your own saliva is a first aid measure. You can relieve the swelling and pain with ice cubes or cooling pads, as well as ointments and cooling gels. Onions or lemons can also help. Simply apply the juice to the wound.

The tiger mosquito can transmit these diseases

A tiger mosquito bite can be dangerous if the mosquito is infected with pathogens. This is because the mosquito, which comes from the tropics, can transmit more than 20 types of virus.

This includes dengue fever - a disease that can be fatal for people with poor health. So far, there is no medication or vaccination against it. In 2016, more than 950 cases of dengue fever were reported to the Robert Koch Institute, more than ever before. So far, however, those affected have been infected abroad.

Vaccination certificate with yellow fever vaccination: It protects travelers for a lifetime. (Source: imago / Papsch)

Other diseases that can be transmitted by the tiger mosquito include:

  • Chikungunya fever
  • Yellow fever
  • West Nile fever
  • Zika diseases

The symptoms of the diseases listed resemble a flu-like infection. This can lead to a high fever as well as headache and body aches, fatigue or vomiting.

Protection against tiger mosquitoes

Asian tiger mosquito: Mosquito larvae hatch more often in summer and autumn. However, if you take precautionary measures, you can prevent oviposition. (Source: Noppharat05081977 / Getty Images)

You can take action against the reproduction of the mosquito in your own garden and thus prevent the tiger mosquito from spreading. Please note the following:

  • Since mosquitoes lay their larvae in shallow, still water, puddles, watering cans and bird baths should be emptied and cleaned regularly - at least once a week. Cleaning is important because the eggs can survive for a period of time even in drought conditions.
  • Check your rain barrel and seal it well. Tiger mosquitoes take advantage of even the smallest loopholes.
  • Check rain gutters and drainage systems regularly.
  • Avoid water retention. Plant coasters or vessels in which water can collect should be filled with gravel. If this is not possible, you should use appropriate vessels made of copper, as this material kills the larvae.
  • Protect your interiors by installing fly screens and mosquito nets in front of windows and doors. Since the tiger mosquito is active during the day, you should make sure that protection is guaranteed, especially at the balcony and entrance doors.
  • In the event of a massive infestation, electric suction traps can be used. This will reduce the number of mosquitos.
  • Set up egg-laying traps against mosquitoes. Nets or adhesive films impregnated with pyrethroid are particularly suitable for this purpose.
  • Do not use insecticides inadvertently. On the one hand, these can be ineffective against the Asian tiger mosquito, on the other hand they can be harmful to the environment and your health.
  • Larvae in the garden pond can be skimmed off with a landing net. They will also be eaten by frogs, goldfish or koi.

Prof. Dr. Heinz Mehlhorn from Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf recommends t-online.de readers to use Bacillus thuringiensis. "This method is deadly for biting insects. Bacillus thuringiensis is used, for example, in southern Germany to contain gnats in natural waters," he explains in an interview.

This is how science fights against tiger mosquitoes

Asian tiger mosquito: It can be recognized by its black and white striped appearance. (Source: RasikaSekhara / Getty Images)

In the fight against the Asian tiger mosquito in Germany, scientists are testing the use of sterilized males. If the females copulate with these males, they will not have viable offspring. The females become pregnant but have stillbirths. The pupae of the males, which are smaller than those of the females, are sieved out with a net and sterilized with gamma rays.

The sterilized animals can then still compete with wild males, but their sperm is 99 percent damaged. In the summer of 2016, some sterilized males were released in Germany. At that time it was found that the hatching rate had decreased by 15 percent. This method can be used to target one species. It is better than the previous control with the biological agent Bacillus thuringensis israelensis (Bti).

Do not confuse the tiger mosquito with the bush mosquito

Asian bush mosquito: It can also tolerate colder climates and has already colonized regions in Germany. (Source: doug4537 / Getty Images)

The Asian tiger mosquito can easily be confused with the Asian bush mosquito (Aedes japonica). It can also transmit tropical diseases. In contrast to the tiger mosquito, the bush mosquito is dark to black-brown in color and has conspicuous light or silvery-white horizontal stripes on the body and legs.

If you want to know which mosquito species you have, you can get an overview at www.mueckenatlas.de. The portal provides information on the distribution of the native mosquito species and any exotic species that may have "immigrated" into Germany.

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