The third most invasive mosquito in the world is conquering the north of Italy. The Japanese mosquito arrived in north-eastern Italy and adapts to urban environments.
It lives and thrives in Europe in cold environments, but it can also infest warmer areas. Its adaptability is surprising. “The Japanese mosquito ( Aedes japonicus ) is born in the woods – points out Dr. Fabrizio Montarsi , head of the parasitology laboratory of the Zooprophylactic Institute of Padua – “but in Europe and in Italy we find it in cities and even in small towns surrounded by nature”.
How to recognise the Japanese mosquito
It resembles the infamous tiger mosquito, but is generally larger in size. Like the tiger, it has the characteristic of stinging even during the daytime hours and is particularly aggressive and annoying.
“The fear”, says Annapaola Rizzoli of the Edmund Mach Foundation, “is that from the eastern area of Northern Italy it will move to the western part”. There is another fear, the transmission of certain diseases such as Dengue and Chikungunya.
“Another consequence would be the Japanese headache”, says Montarsi. “But in Europe so far we have not found any cases. In order for the virus to be transmitted, there must be the insect, the virus and the exact same environment in which this transmission it is possible, typically that of Southeast Asia “.
Further laboratory tests will better establish whether the insect may be able to cause harm. Meanwhile, the Veneto Region website also indicates the existence in Italy of a vaccine that can be administered from two months of age intramuscularly, with a booster. The same page, however, currently tends to reduce the problem, underlining that “in the world there are 50,000 cases of encephalitis”.
That the insect has precisely the characteristics of an invader is also confirmed by scientific research. “It is the third most invasive species in the world among mosquitoes – specifies Rizzoli – and is in the top hundred of all the most invasive “.
“The success of the invasion of the Japanese mosquito – observes Rizzoli – is also due to its remarkable resistance to long distances and the ability to develop in a series of natural and artificial containers in which there is stagnation of water”.
It is therefore necessary to adopt all possible good practices to avoid the proliferation of the insect. “Starting with not leaving open containers that can become full of water, not stacking materials, using mosquito nets, emptying and overturning the watering cans, keeping the areas where you live clean”.