Main menu


Tiger mosquito: size, diseases, map 2022, how to prevent

Tiger mosquito: size, diseases, map 2022, how to prevent

TIGERMYGGOR 2022. The tiger mosquito is back and it's time for the first bites! What diseases can it transmit? How big is it? How can it be prevented? How can you protect yourself? Map and practical tips on the tiger mosquito.

The 2022 tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) season has begun!

This mosquito is controlled by the regional health authorities (ARS) through a network of traps, especially in the most densely populated urban areas. The tiger mosquito likes places where people live. It bites like the "classic" mosquito, but bites more during the day and can transmit diseases like Zika. What rooms can it be found in? How can one protect oneself from it? What are the risks in case of a bite? How big is the tiger mosquito? How do you disinfect and treat the bite? 

Map: Where is the tiger mosquito in France?

In mainland France, this mosquito has grown rapidly since 2004. Each year the tiger mosquito emerges from hibernation in the spring, a period of humidity and heat. Moisture, so that the laid eggs can develop from larva to cocoon, and heat so that the larva can develop into the adult mosquito stage. The official maps on the presence of the tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) in France are intended to inform decision-makers and the public. They are regularly updated by the Ministry of Health. 

How big is the tiger mosquito?

The tiger mosquito is smaller than the native mosquito we have in our country: the Aedes albopictus is about 5 mm long. The native mosquito is usually between half a centimeter and one centimeter in size.

What diseases can the tiger mosquito transmit?

The tiger mosquito is a potential vector of some viral diseases, but it does not systematically transmit them," says the expert. The best known are the dengue, chikungunya, and Zika viruses. It can transmit them from one person to another. The mosquito contracts the disease by biting an infected person and then spreads it by biting another person. If bitten, the patient is still contagious a few hours before the outbreak and during the acute phase, usually five days after the outbreak.

  • Dengue is an asymptomatic disease. In 25-60% of cases it is flu-like (high fever, chills, headache, myalgia, nausea, vomiting, joint pain, etc.), accompanied by rashes and severe fatigue.
  • Chikungunya is a primarily benign disease that causes symptoms such as fatigue and severe pain that can last for several weeks. If you develop fever and joint pain after a mosquito bite, you should contact your doctor.
  • Zika virus disease is usually a benign illness, but sometimes it can cause flu-like symptoms, such as headaches, aches, and fatigue, as well as rashes. It can also take the form of conjunctivitis or pain behind the eyes and swelling in the hands and/or feet. The fever is low and transient.

What is the risk of being bitten by a tiger mosquito?

Stéphane Gayet would like to reassure people about the tiger mosquito: "Don't panic, this mosquito is not necessarily dangerous: to transmit viral diseases such as dengue, chikungunya or the Zika infection, it must first bite someone infected. However, there are very few cases in France. So you should be vigilant, but there is no reason to be afraid because these mosquitoes are only a threat in countries where these diseases are widespread.

What is the origin of the tiger mosquito?

The tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) originated in the rainforests of Southeast Asia but is now found in most countries of the world, having adapted to different environments, including urban areas. "The mosquito came to Europe in the nineteenth century, by plane or probably by boat, because its life is tied to humidity," explains Stéphane Gayet, an infectious disease specialist at the hospital in Strasbourg. The species is now found in more than 100 countries on all five continents. The rapid spread of this species, mainly linked to international trade (especially tires), has led it to be considered one of the most invasive species in the world. It tends to breed in all types of containers and artificial water tanks (jars, pots, gutters, etc.) "It is called the tiger mosquito because it has white lines on its body and black legs," he says. The tiger mosquito is noiseless and diurnal, which means it bites during the day (especially in the morning and evening) without making any noise, while the mosquito tends to bite at night.

Tiger mosquito: size, diseases, map 2022, how to prevent

The life cycle of the Tiger Mosquito © Alexey Protasov - / Journal des Femmes

Photo: What does a tiger mosquito look like?

Tiger mosquito: size, diseases, map 2022, how to prevent

© 123RF-Marco Uliana

How long does the tiger mosquito live?

The average life expectancy of a tiger mosquito is 30 days.

How can I protect myself from the tiger mosquito?

The French Agency for Food, Environment, and Occupational Safety (Anses) has compiled a list of recommendations for protection against the tiger mosquito. 

To prevent the spread of the tiger mosquito in your home, you should :

  • If possible, turn on air conditioning (mosquitoes flee to cool places) or a fan,
  • Empty pots and planters or fill them with damp sand.
  • Remove or empty small water tanks in the garden regularly.
  • Make rainwater tanks inaccessible to mosquitoes (cover with mosquito netting or thin fabric), and turn water jugs upside down.
  • Make sure there is enough slope to prevent water from pooling in gutters.
  • Make sure rainwater drains properly.
  • Keep all items that can absorb water out of the rain: Car tires, plastic sheeting, and children's toys.
  • For water bodies that cannot be drained (wells, open rainwater collectors, etc.), cover them well with a mosquito net or, if this is not possible, cover the water with a thin layer of oil: the larvae cannot breathe and die.
  •  Maintaining the garden, pruning trees, trimming hedges and tall grass, and preventing the accumulation of plant debris will reduce the persistence of tiger mosquitoes.

To protect yourself from bites, you should:

  • Wear long, loose-fitting, light-colored clothes.
  • Use skin protection products according to the precautions on the packaging. The World Health Organization recommends the use of skin protectors, especially those containing DEET, IR3535, or Icaridin. On the other hand, electrical devices, such as diffusers or ultrasound transmitters, are not very effective. Therefore, you should always consult your doctor or, if this is not possible, your pharmacist, as some products are not effective and others are not recommended for pregnant women and children.
  • Use mosquito nets to prevent mosquitoes from entering the house,
  • Citronella only protects against bites for about an hour and is not recommended for children under 2 years old.
  • Use indoor insecticidal sprays and outdoor washes.

What is the difference between this and a "normal" mosquito?

The tiger mosquito is very easy to recognize with the naked eye: It can be identified by the distinct black and white stripes on its body and legs.

  • The wings are distinctly black (without spots). "The tiger mosquito is very dark, almost black, with fine white stripes. These stripes give it its name: Aedes albopictus, where albo means 'white' and pictus means 'striped,' so 'white-striped,'" the specialist explains. It is easy to see that the tiger mosquito is darker than the others, even when it flies.
  • Its body is black and white and it is easily recognized by the white line along its thorax. 
  • To feed, mosquitoes have a biting apparatus: a long appendage that protrudes from the head. If the insect has no teeth, it is not a mosquito.
  • It is quite easy to swat it in flight.  
  • It usually bites during the day, at dusk and dawn. "In fact, it is more diurnal than the native mosquito: It tends to be diurnal, whereas the native mosquito tends to be crepuscular and nocturnal," the infectious disease specialist adds.
  • It is more aggressive than other mosquitoes: "Female mosquitoes must bite mammals or humans, but it seems that tiger mosquitoes prefer humans. 

What to do in case of a tiger mosquito bite?

Visually, the bite is the same: you feel a slight pain, there is a small red button, it swells and itches fairly quickly," describes Stéphane Gayet. The pimple appears as a slightly flat blister, between 5 mm and 2 cm in diameter, depending on the person. In case of a negative skin reaction, the pimple may turn red and enlarge. "It is always important to disinfect with an antiseptic immediately after the bite to reduce the risk of disease transmission," the doctor explains. Once this is done, the bite will disappear on its own.

How do report the presence of tiger mosquitoes?

If tiger mosquitoes are spotted, you should notify the ARS or the county, which can implement a control plan. Reporting the presence of a tiger mosquito allows you to participate in its surveillance, which helps health authorities implement control measures appropriate to its spread throughout the territory. However, before reporting a tiger mosquito, you must have a photo of the mosquito or its condition must allow its identification (by sending a sample to the mosquito control officer in your area). Once this requirement is met, three questions must be answered to check for the presence of a tiger mosquito: 
  • Is the mosquito small?
  • Is the mosquito small?
  • Does it have a biting device (a long appendage sticking out of its head)?

What are the recommendations when you travel to high-risk countries?

As there is no vaccine against chikungunya and dengue, prevention and control of mosquito breeding remain the only means of protection. If you suddenly develop a high fever (above 38.5°C), severe joint and muscle pain, and headache a day or two after traveling, it is also advisable to consult a doctor. If you are traveling to tropical areas, you should protect yourself from mosquito bites:
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing soaked with insecticide,
  • Use anti-mosquito products,
  • Sleep under an insecticide-treated mosquito net,
  • Turn on the air conditioner, as mosquitoes dislike low temperatures.

* Monitoring, i.e. catching mosquitoes regularly through traps set up at stations. These mosquitoes are identified and sent to the regional health department laboratory for analysis.
With thanks to Stéphane Gayet, the infectious disease specialist at Strasbourg University Hospital.


table of contents title