Are barbecues a feast for mosquitoes this year? Should we expect more small bloodsuckers at the public viewing of the European Football Championship in six weeks? In short: Will it be a mosquito year? The mosquito hunters on the Upper Rhine, who are organized in an association, can currently neither rule out nor predict this.

“It is impossible to say whether a year with a lot of mosquitoes is ahead,” said the local action group to combat the plague of gnats (KABS) in Speyer – in parts of southern Germany, mosquitoes are also called gnats. “How many larvae hatch depends on flooding events.” Such events occur more frequently in a wet summer than in a dry summer.

Helicopter combat

“In addition, female mosquitoes live six to eight weeks. The specimens that have now hatched do not yet determine what it will look like.” The experts are currently fighting mosquitoes again with the active ingredient Bti, which kills larvae. “If the current operations are going smoothly, there will be no significant biting nuisance from alluvial forest mosquitoes in the Rhine floodplains and the surrounding area in the near future.”

Recently, the water level in the Rhine rose due to rainfall. “The small flood peak flooded low areas in the Rhine meadows, and the Kabs took over helicopter flights between Rastatt and Ludwigshafen on both sides of the Rhine to treat larger areas,” said a spokeswoman. “There were also short flights in Rheinhessen and southern Hesse.” Further operations could be required at any time.

Regarding the spread of the tiger mosquito, the spokeswoman said that Kabs is observing that “more and more tiger mosquitoes are reported every summer and more and more municipalities are confronted with the issue.” “Last year, more than 50 new communities or cities in heat-prone regions of southwest Germany were affected, especially the Upper Rhine Plain.” Due to the high number, there is no longer any need for an “introduction event” from abroad. Tiger mosquitoes can transmit pathogens such as dengue or Zika viruses.

Tiger mosquito is spreading

“Neighboring communities can now supply each other with tiger mosquitoes when a person moves from one place to another in a vehicle. If the summer becomes as hot as the last one, this trend will probably continue,” said the spokeswoman.

More than 90 municipalities in Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse and Baden-Württemberg have joined forces in the Kabs – a registered association recognized as a non-profit organization. Their task is to curb the proliferation of bloodsuckers – including those that transmit diseases – in order to prevent a plague.

The experts’ work with the active ingredient Bti, which kills larvae, is complex: On the ground, they fight through the thickets to combat riparian forest mosquitoes, but many breeding sites have to be destroyed from the air. Helicopters are used here.