France declares war on the Tiger mosquito

The French ministry for health launched the country’s annual war on Tiger mosquitos this week, after the disease-carrying pest almost doubled its presence in the south of France last year.

France declares war on the Tiger mosquito
Aedes albopictus - the 'tiger mosquito.' French authorities have launched their annual war on the fast-breeding, disease-carrying insects, which are prevalent in the south of France. Photo: CDC

As spring and early summer bring warmer weather, all over France t-shirts and shorts are being taken out of the closet again.

Unfortunately, however, early May is also the start of mosquito season, and all that bare flesh is irresistible to one Aedes albopictus – the tiger mosquito.

Which means its time for officials from France’s ministry of health to launch their annual war on the tiny Asian bloodsuckers on Thursday, warning residents in the south of the country to be vigilant and take simple steps to avoid infestation by a creature that lays 250 eggs every two days.

“It’s important to get rid of stagnant water around the house,” the Direction générale de la santé (Directorate General for Health) said in a statement.

“Replace saucers from under flowerpots, change the water in vases several times each week, check that gutters are clear, and get rid of used tires,” the directorate added.

Tiger mosquitos have now made home in 17 departments in the south of France, according to French daily Le Parisien. That’s a number that went up from just nine in last year.

Especially virulent along the humid Mediterranean coast, the tiger mosquito first appeared in the Alpes-Maritimes department in 2004.

Since then, the insects have spread from there and caused serious infections such as Denge and Chikungunya fever, notably in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region during the summer of 2010.

This isn’t the first time in recent weeks that French authorities have declared war on disease-carrying pests.

Last month, The Local reported how Paris police had kicked off their yearly “deratization” campaign, hoping to keep homes in the French capital free of the city’s millions of infectious rodents.

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France’s Asterix park to shut down dolphin show

A major amusement park in northern France said on Monday it would close its dolphin and sea lion aquarium, the day before lawmakers start to debate new animal welfare rules.

France's Asterix park to shut down dolphin show
France has long discussed imposing stricter rules on using wild animals in amusement parks. Illustration photo: AFP

The dolphin shows are a popular attraction at Parc Asterix, which normally has some two million visitors a year, but have long been a target of animal rights activists.

“We've been thinking about this for several years,” the park's managing director Nicolas Kremer told Le Parisien newspaper, saying the site wanted to focus instead on rides and other shows.

He said the dolphins would be transferred to other aquariums in Europe in the next two months, adding: “Reintroduction in a natural environment is not possible for these animals raised in captivity.”

A ban on captive breeding of dolphins and other marine mammals as well as their use in shows is a key part of the draft law, with the debate due to begin on Tuesday.

A previous effort to outlaw the practices by decree in 2017 was thrown out by the Council of State, France's highest administrative court, but animal rights group have kept up pressure for the ban.

“These associations think that captivity is abuse, but I can tell you that we have always ensured the wellbeing of our animals,” Kremer said.

The park, based on the beloved Asterix the Gaul comics, is hoping to reopen for the busy summer season on April 3rd if coronavirus restrictions are lifted by then.

READ ALSO: Disneyland Paris to begin 'phased reopening' in July