Predicting the time of arrival of the tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) to new countries based on trade patterns of tyres and plants.

Published online
22 Feb 2024
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Oliveira, S. & Capinha, C. & Rocha, J.
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Publication language
Brazil & Africa & South America & Central Europe & Northern Europe


The mosquito Aedes albopictus is a highly invasive species, which continues to widen its range worldwide. International trade is a major driver of its dispersal, in particular the imports of tyres and live plants. As a competent vector of numerous diseases, among which Zika and dengue, the spread of this species raises public health concerns. Based on indicators of trade volumes and trends along 15 years, combined with climatic similarity and geographic distance between countries, we tested a model aimed at estimating the time of arrival of the species in new countries. We used partial least squares regression to model the year of first recording of the species in previously invaded countries. The fitted model was subsequently applied to predict the expected time of arrival in countries where the species is still absent. The model was able to estimate the year of first recording of the species with up to 2 years difference for 90% of the countries. Temperature differences among countries and the number of exporting countries where the species is present were the most important predictors. Estimates indicate that Aedes albopictus might enter all countries assessed by 2035, earlier in Africa and South America than in Eastern and Northern Europe. However, passive transportation by ground vehicles may accelerate the dispersal of the species, whereas environmental suitability may have seasonal limits, factors that were not integrated in the model. Policy implications: Surveillance and control strategies require timely adjustments to curb the spread of this species, and public health policies must adapt to tackle the potential exposure to vector-borne diseases. Our study highlights that, in the absence of transnational strategies to contain the dispersal of the species, a large number of new countries will be colonized in the coming years, in different regions of the world, where the implementation of timely preventive measures is paramount.

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