The tiger mosquito, scientifically known as Aedes albopictus, first appeared in Italy in 1990.
In as little as two years it had already been sited in Liguria, Veneto, Latium and Lombardy.
The key to its success is its striking adaptability to different types of environment.
In its regions of origin its habitat is typically arboreal. It lays its eggs wherever it finds a bit of still water, even in abandoned tyres, tins, pots, pot-dishes or any other container with stagnant water.
Amongst its oriental relatives, it is the only one capable of laying embryonate eggs which may withstand European winters and of commencing a new phase of activity upon the start of Spring.
The system by which Aedes albopictus spreads is simple and effective. The eggs deposited in accidental stagnant waters (for instance in those accumulated in abandoned car tyres exposed to rain), are passively transported worldwide through international trade. Luckily in Italy the severest risks to health commonly associated with Aedes albopictus are averted. In fact, the diseases caused by arboviruses such as dengue and yellow fever which may be transmitted by this mosquito, occur only in tropical climates.
The tiger mosquito may however become a vector for the propagation of a number of canine parasites giving rise to infections such as filariasis, thus increasing the risk of transmission to humans. The control of the tiger mosquito appears to be difficult with the means currently available especially given the great diversity of breeding-grounds that may be colonized by the larvae.
A personal commitment by all individuals is therefore essential for ensuring the control of this pest. In other words, attention must be given to eliminating all possible sites of oviposition.
This is for the moment the safest and most effective way of ensuring personal protection. Local health and hygiene authorities have also brought out leaflets with a number of recommendations for keeping the tiger mosquito under control.
Among these recommendations, placing of a simple 20-30cm long electric copper wire in pot-dishes, inside drains or wherever there is some stagnant water would appear to effectively prevent the eggs from hatching.
A further precaution or remedy which can be adopted with just a little effort