Meike WolfKevin Hall

Asian tiger mosquitos as undesirable cross-border commuters

Invasive species and the regulation of (bio-)insecurities in Europe


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Similar to other animals, the Asian tiger mosquito has a particular biography. It is one of the most recent infamous additions to European wildlife (along with other unpopular invaders, such as the tramp slug and killer shrimp). Originally from South-East Asia, tiger mosquitos managed to spread to Africa, the Americas, Oceania and Europe by traveling along global trade and traffic routes. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has classified tiger mosquitos as an invasive species believed “to cause economic or environmental impact or harm to human health.” The insects can be vectors for a number of infectious diseases, such as dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika. This article draws on ethnographic research to analyze the strategies used in four European regions (Switzerland, France, the Netherlands and Germany) to monitor and control mosquito populations by means of mapping, insecticides and public awareness campaigns. From the perspective of cultural anthropology, we aim to understand how borders come to matter in the management of species that do not recognize borders. This article discusses how mosquitos embody powerful connections between nations, places, nature and the environment – and how these connections are based on assumptions about who is responsible for solving the mosquito problem.

Tiger mosquitos, biosecurity, prevention, dengue, invasive species