Warm winters can temporarily attract dangerous tropical insects to us as well


Warmer weather in the winter brings with it various transformations – not only domestic – in nature.

If we are talking about the possible spread of new tropical, subtropical or generally at least thermophilic species in the Czech Republic, according to entomologists, it is necessary to take into account their ability not only to appear for a short time during the hot summer months, but above all their ability to overwinter, for which they are not adapted in their original homeland.

“That’s why warm winters can significantly help the temporary spread and increased abundance of some thermophilic animal species, including so-called blood-sucking arthropods, i.e. carriers of various infectious diseases,” Jan Votýpka from the Department of Parasitology at the Faculty of Natural Sciences of Charles University in Prague told Novinkám.

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Rather the strengthening of existing species than the appearance of completely new ones

However, according to him, this is not usually a situation where some new exotic representatives of blood-sucking arthropods reach us, but rather a situation where, in the case of species regularly introduced every year to our territory, the warm winter enables them to hibernate – and therefore to be active from the frequent spring months.

“And thus the overall strengthening of their population in our territory occurs,” explained associate professor Votýpka.

Typically, this situation concerns invasive mosquitoes, especially the tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus)which transmits dengue fever, yellow fever or the Zika virus.

  • Tiger mosquito is native to Southeast Asia and has spread to the tropics and subtropics of the world by importing commodities such as used tires or the ornamental dragon tree called Lucky Bamboo. The tiger mosquito has already settled permanently in southern Europe, especially in France, Italy and Spain.

And it was the Biomedical Center of the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAV) that confirmed the occurrence of this dangerous invasive mosquito species in our eastern neighbors this February.

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The corresponding species of mosquito appeared in Slovakia for the first time in 2012 in the vicinity of Košice, but then it did not manage to settle permanently. This time he appeared in Bratislava – and apparently managed to spend the winter there.

Even in our territory, the tiger mosquito has been recorded repeatedly since 2012, however, according to Votýpka, it is probably not able to overwinter normally and widely.

“But the warm winter will suit him. On the other hand, it is necessary to realize that the harsh winter in the following years can once again exterminate all these populations, temporarily settled and established in our territory,” noted the Czech scientist.

Votýpka further pointed out that, overall, from the point of view of blood-sucking arthropods, a mild winter is also beneficial for our normal populations, for example for ticks.

“That’s why we can expect their more abundant occurrence this year and full activity due to the warm weather,” he concluded.

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The article is in Czech

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