There are several ways to identify Asian Tiger mosquitos: black and white flecked bodies with a stripe down the back, the unusual habit of feeding during daylight hours, and until relatively recently, a tropical and subtropical distribution within Southeast Asia. Over past decades, however, the species has begun moving further afield, being stowed away in various objects during international travel and the transportation of goods. They have reached the Americas, Middle East, Caribbean, and Europe, and just one week ago three tiger mosquitos were found here in Munich, marking the first time the species was ever recorded in the region.
As carriers and vectors of viruses like West Nile, yellow fever, Chikungunya, and dengue fever, it is understandable that people are becoming conconcerned about the potential for epidemics in areas yet unaffected. However, wherever mosquito populations flourish, they represent a hefty chunk of the biomass that feeds many species on the lower rungs of the food chain. It seems that solutions to the threats mosquitos pose must balance a host of scientific and ethical considerations. This is the topic of the Rachel Carson Legacy Symposium “Mosquitopia? The Place of Pests in a Healthy World,” on 24–27 October 2019. To coincide with the event, we are hosting a three-part installment written by two of the conveners of Mosquitopia, Marcus Hall and Dan Tamir, in which we are introduced to the conflicts and challenges surrounding a possible Mosquito-free future. Part One will be out tomorrow, so watch this space!