Do you know what the deadliest animal on the planet is? The tiny mosquito! It’s responsible for around 725,000 deaths per year even topping humans killing other humans by homicide at 400,000. And while we tend to associate mosquitos with hot, swampy places like the Amazon, it’s important to note that mosquitos have become invasive.
Mosquitos now live in Switzerland and were discovered north of the Alps in 2013. The Confederation has set up a monitoring program operated by specialists who work with health specialists in each canton to control any outbreaks of diseases.
Here’s what you need to know about mosquitos in Switzerland.
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Mosquito Species Found in Switzerland
In recent years, three invasive species have been reported in Switzerland—the Asian tiger mosquito, the East Asian bush mosquito, and the Aedes koreicus. All three look similar to each other with black and white markings on the body and on the hind legs. However, they differ in nuisance, disease transition potential, and geographic location. They breed in stagnant water in urban areas where they raise their babies on meals of blood.
Originating in Southeast Asia, the Asian tiger mosquito is one of the world’s most invasive species. The transporting of vehicles and tires is mostly responsible for its current presence in southern Europe and its advancement northward. It’s highly adaptable ecologically and can survive a variety of conditions.
The Asian bush mosquito is endemic to Korea and Japan. Through transport and other human activity, it has colonized areas of central Europe. It actually prefers colder temperatures than the Asian bush mosquito. Watch out for this mosquito and its bite near woodlands. It’s slightly larger than the tiger mosquito and has yellowish lines instead of clear white ones. Currently, no diseases have been linked to this species. Measures taken against the tiger mosquito appear to be working on the bush mosquito.
The Aedes koreicus prefers a temperate climate in Switzerland’s urban areas. It’s the same size as the tiger mosquito but doesn’t have a clear white line through its body. No diseases have been associated with it yet.
Mosquito-Borne Diseases in Switzerland
Global temperatures are steadily rising giving invasive tropical mosquitos the ability to survive in more northern regions. Diseases to be aware of include chikungunya fever, dengue fever, West Nile disease, yellow fever, and malaria. Symptoms of these diseases range from asymptomatic to rashes, joint pain, and fever. Malaria and yellow fever are potentially fatal but effective treatments are available. There is no vaccine for Malaria but antiviral medications can prevent it.
Chikungunya fever and dengue fever are spread mainly by the female tiger mosquito in Switzerland. Both diseases can be managed with anti-inflammatories and analgesics.
Mosquito-Prone Areas in Switzerland
The infamous tiger mosquito has established itself in the canton of Ticino and the Italian part of Grisons. They may also be present in Zurich, Geneva, Valais, Basel-Stadt, and Basel-Landschaft. You may also find them along Swiss motorways.
First spotted in the canton of Aargau in 2008, the Aedes japonicus is rapidly spreading into neighboring cantons and Germany. The Asian bush mosquito has been residing south of the Alps since 2012 and is spreading rapidly in all directions.
The Aedes koreicus was seen for the first time in 2012 in Ticino. In 2017, they were spotted in Grisons and along Swiss motorways. They tend to avoid urban environments.
Switzerland’s Efforts to Control Mosquito-Borne Diseases
The Asian tiger mosquito is the most threatening mosquito in Switzerland and the one authorities concentrate on controlling. Besides being annoying, the tiger mosquito can transmit pathogens such as chikungunya, dengue, or Zika viruses.
The Swiss Tropical Public Health Institute (TPH) monitors invasive mosquito activity on behalf of the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN). It is one of four official agencies that serve as a reporting point for invasive mosquitos and the risks they pose to the public.
At the beginning of each summer, traps are set to study mosquito activity on motorways, railway stations, airports, and other locations.
Tips to Prevent Mosquito Bites in Switzerland
It’s the female mosquitos ready to breed and lay eggs that need the protein and lipids in the blood of other animals. And they do it at certain times of the day, particularly at dawn and dusk. Pay special attention to protect yourself during these times. Use a good insect repellent that has been approved by the EPA. Be wary of DIY insect repellents. They may not work on mosquitos.
Get rid of the standing water on your property. Check the neighborhood and suggest that your neighbors do the same. Report standing water on abandoned property to the authorities. They will remove it at no charge.
If you have small ponds, rain barrels, and bird baths on your property, the water can be treated with larvicide briquets. They are harmless to humans, plants, and pets.
Avoid wearing thin clothing outdoors. Choose tightly woven materials like cotton, nylon, or denim. And keep in mind that mosquitos prefer dark colors. Tucking your jeans inside your socks will protect your ankles from bites during outdoor activities.
Sunscreen will reduce the efficiency of insect repellent. If you need to use sunscreen, apply it before insect repellent. Let it penetrate the skin for 20 minutes and then apply insect repellent.
Portable insect repellers are available that protect you from insects for an area of 15 feet. However, if you have pets, they are not safe to use around them.
What to Do When Bitten By A Mosquito
It’s hard to do, but try not to scratch a mosquito bite. Scratching will spread the saliva that mosquitos release into your bloodstream and extend the inflammatory reaction. Instead, place a damp, hot washcloth on the bite to destroy the bacteria and then follow with a cooling treatment such as ice or aloe vera to alleviate the itch.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can you identify a tiger mosquito?
The Asian tiger mosquito is small, about 1/4 of an inch long. It’s called a tiger mosquito because it has a white stripe down the middle of its head and white bands on its legs.
Are there mosquitoes in Switzerland during the summer?
Yes, take extra precautions against mosquitos in Switzerland during the summer.
Are there mosquitoes in the Swiss Alps?
The Asian bush mosquito was detected in the Alps in 2012 and is actively spreading in all directions.
Are there mosquitoes in Zurich?
Mosquitos have been reported around the Limmat River and Lake Zurich. Sometimes an occasional one will make its way inside homes.