Many will welcome the recent spell of hot weather as the colder winter air gives way to spring sunshine.
Rising temperatures across the UK signal the beginning of summertime. But the warmer conditions also mark the start of something else: pest season.
A relatively mild and wet winter, coupled with a warm spring, provides a fertile environment for insects such as mosquitoes to flourish, according to the British Pest Control Association.
In France, the Asian tiger mosquito has become established in some regions, and more than 57 districts in the country have issued warnings over the disease-carrying insects.
The UK is home to around 30 different types of mosquito, some of which can bite — leaving itchy marks on the skin.
But is the Asian tiger mosquito set to head north across the English Channel and invade the UK?
What is the Asian Tiger mosquito?
The Asian tiger mosquito — or Aedes albopictus — is an invasive insect that is native to the tropical areas of Southeast Asia from which it derives its name.
It was accidentally introduced to Europe in the 1970s and has since become established in some parts of the continent such as Italy and France.
The Asian tiger mosquito is around four times larger than a normal mosquito and carries diseases such as dengue fever and Zika virus.
How did the Asian tiger mosquito get to Europe?
It is thought the tiger mosquito was first introduced to Europe through a shipment of goods from China arriving in Albania in the 1970s.
During the 1990s, the invasive species is understood to have been introduced to Italy through a shipment of used car tyres from Georgia, US.
From there, the tiger mosquito spread to Italy’s mainland before moving to France by the end of the decade.
Is the Asian tiger mosquito headed for the UK?
A 2019 study by a PHD student at Liverpool University suggested that changes to the climate could mean that the insects move north and become established in the UK.
There have been a few isolated incidents in the southeast of England where tiger mosquito eggs and larvae have been found.
But according to the study, published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, there appears to be no evidence to suggest that the insects have become established in the UK.
“Whether or not the mosquito could actually become established in the UK is assessed by analysing the climatic conditions with mathematical models,” Sören Metelmann, the author of the research said.
Mr Metelmann said that only some small areas in the southeast of England appear to be suitable for the tiger mosquitos to survive.
Whether or not the bugs do become established across the UK depends on changing climatic conditions. It could take around forty years to see such changes, Mr Metelman added.
In 2019, Dr James Logan, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told The Sun that the Asian tiger mosquito was not breeding in the UK.
He added: “The Asian tiger mosquito has been found in the UK over the last couple of years in small numbers.
“We don’t think they’re established here, they’re not breeding here.”
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