"Tiger mosquitoes backpacking to Belgium"

Tiger mosquitoes haven't been spotted in Belgium so far this year, but scientists at the Antwerp-based Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) are not complacent.  Tiger mosquitoes have found new avenues of reaching the country.

Recently it has become clear that tiger mosquitoes are backpacking on cars being driven from parts of Europe where they are established.  Tiger mosquitoes hail from Asia originally.

The ITM monitors the presence of tiger mosquitoes in Belgium.  Last year mosquitoes were recorded at five locations. ITM's Wim Van Bortel: "The tiger mosquitoes we saw last year we found on car parks along motorways leading from France and Germany.  We suspect the mosquitoes backpack on these vehicles from areas in France and Germany where moths are established.

"It's new for us.  It's the first time the insects have reached Belgium in this way.  With the holidays almost upon us we're quite likely to see a repeat."

Luckily there's no reason for panic.  The ITM monitors the presence of the mosquitoes.  Large numbers have not yet been recorded.  Tiger mosquitoes aren't dangerous but can carry nasty diseases.  Wim Van Bortel: "These diseases first need to be brought into the country, e.g. by travellers, for them to be passed on by the tiger mosquitoes ".

The mosquitoes recorded last year didn't survive the winter.

Wim Van Bortel: "Our monitoring started in April and will continue until the end of the summer."