France maps out defence for war on mosquitos

As temperatures rise and the rains continue to fall, concerns in France have turned to the country’s surging mosquito population. A new interactive map looks set to give residents and holiday-makers a head start in avoiding those nasty mossie bites.

France maps out defence for war on mosquitos
Aedes albopictus - the Tiger mosquito. Users can check an interactive new map to get warnings and when and where to invest in some bug spray. Photo: Vigilance Moustiques/CDC

After a spring that featured rare levels of flooding in France, water-loving mosquitos are on the march, it seems.

Normally encountered in the southern half of the country, the disease-carrying insects have “invaded” parts of France like Aube, near Paris, according to Alain Boyer, mayor of the town of Barbuise.

They have been particularly drawn to parts of the region still recovering from heavy flooding in May, Boyer added.

Residents and holidaymakers in throughout the country, however, have a new interactive map at their disposal, to help them stay one step ahead of the blood-sucking mossies.

‘Vigilance moustiques’, an agency of France’s health ministry, have teamed up with mosquito spray company Manouka to offer the concerned among us a detailed, interactive map of mosquito activity.

The map has a colour-coded breakdown of the mosquito threat level in every department, ranging from red, ‘alert’, to green, ‘nothing to report.’

The website also features a real time ‘wire’ service, whereby users can send updates of mosquito bites, including the location and type of mosquito, to help keep other members of the public forewarned and forearmed.

Elsewhere, French company EID Atlantique have launched ‘iMoustique’, a new iPhone app designed to keep mobile users in the loop about mosquito activity in their area, regional daily Sud-Ouest reported on Tuesday.

All this vigilance is far from unfounded, however, as the number of Tiger mosquitos, in particular, rises rapidly in France.

Tiger mosquitos (Aedes albopictus) have made a home in 17 departments in the south of the country, French daily Le Parisien reported in May. That’s a number that went up from just nine last year.

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

Mosquitos, who lay 250 eggs every two days, love heat and humidity, and are drawn to areas of surface water.

After a particularly wet spring in France, even residents of the northern half of the country should get informed about how best to avoid an infestation.

“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 in May.

“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.

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