Transformations

for sustainable development

03.05.2018

Exotic mosquitoes in Hesse: Frankfurt research team investigates natural control

Summer temperatures entail mosquitoes and not only domestic ones. For some years now, exotic insects such as the Asian bush mosquito have emerged. An enrichment for biodiversity, but not harmless for humans: The Asian bush mosquito is a vector of infectious diseases for which no drug treatment is yet available. To prevent these diseases from occurring in the first place, researchers are now trying to combat mosquitoes in the most environmentally friendly way possible.


Asian bush mosquito Aedes japonicus (Copyright: James Gathany/CDC)

There are small white barrels with a black nozzles or water-filled black plastic cups that have been standing in cemeteries in Wiesbaden, Lorch and Dornburg in the Westerwald for some time. What might be irritating for some cemetery visitors are sophisticated traps that Frankfurt scientists have been using for three years to hunt exotic mosquitoes. They are thus targeting the Aedes japonicus, which was first detected in Germany in 2008 and is now occuring in Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony and Bavaria.

The Asian bush mosquito prefers to live on the outskirts of residential areas, towns and cities. It prefers allotments or cemeteries, because rain barrels or flower vases offer ideal breeding grounds for its larvae. Therefore, since October 2017 selected cemeteries in the Rheingau, Westerwald and Wiesbaden have been under the special observation of the Frankfurt research team, which also includes ISOE scientists. The scientists’ goal is to find out how many Asian bush mosquitoes are out and about in these regions throughout the year. Because in order to contain them, it is important to know how many of them there are that hatch and fly. And there is a definite need to control them because bush mosquitoes can transmit Japanese encephalitis and West Nile fever. These are tropical diseases with flu-like symptoms, which in rare cases can have a serious disease progression.

Natural control with essential oils

A possible natural control agent against the Asian bush mosquito is already being tested: At specific points, clove and lavender oil is dripped into the egg-laying vessels that contain stagnant water. The intention is to kill off existing larvae. The ISOE scientists who are involved in this project are investigating to what extent natural mosquito control using clove oil is being approved by cemetery visitors.

The research project “AJAP II – Environmentally friendly and sustainable control of the Asian bush mosquito” will continue at least until summer 2020 and is managed by the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre and the Institute for Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine at Goethe University Frankfurt. The project is financed by the Fachzentrum Klimawandel (FZK) of the Hessisches Landesamt für Natur, Umwelt und Geologie (HLNUG). Read more


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Nicola Schuldt-Baumgart
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