Species On The Move

As climate change impacts habitats around the world, species are on the move, trying to adapt — and survive.

About This Species

The Asian tiger mosquito arrived in the United States in the mid-1980s when it stowed away in tires imported from Asia. The mosquitoes, which have black and white stripes and are about a quarter of an inch long, have since found a home in the mid-Atlantic region. They have spread beyond their native home in Southeast Asia, and can be found in Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, South America and beyond.

Asian tiger mosquito climate change public health

Climate change is expanding the Asian tiger mosquito's range (Credit: James Gathany/CDC)

The insects are invasive and are able to adapt easily. They will reproduce in anything that holds water, like flower pots, tin cans, bird baths or holes in trees. 

This is a cause for concern because the mosquitos are known carriers of disease, and climate change is causing the mosquitos' range to spread. They have been known to carry dengue, chikungunya and West Nile viruses, and in lab conditions have proven capable of transmitting more than 20 viruses that are dangerous to both humans and animals.

Conservation Status

The last three decades have seen a vast expansion of the mosquitos' range, and climate change is expected to increase that.

Asian tiger range CO2 climate change

Looking Forward

Climate change will continue to expand the Asian tiger mosquito's range and the public health risk will grow, too. Scientists are working on projecting how the range will expand, so people in those areas can prepare. As the mosquitos spread further into areas without sufficient resources, there is greater risk of a public health crisis. One study found that by 2050, approximately 2.4 billion people could live in areas where the mosquitos also live. How far the range expands will be determined by how much climate action is or is not successful in limiting carbon dioxide emissions.

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