25/04/2012 04:03 BST | Updated 25/04/2012 09:02 BST

Asian Tiger Mosquito: Climate Change Means Deadly Insect Could Invade UK

A deadly mosquito that spreads tropical diseases including dengue fever is poised to invade the UK due to climate change, experts have warned.

The Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, has already been reported in France and Belgium and could be migrating north as winters become warmer and wetter.

Scientists urged "wide surveillance" for the biting insect across countries of central and northern Europe, including the UK.

The mosquito can carry dengue and chikungunya viruses, both of which cause high fevers. The infections usually occur in tropical regions of Africa, Asia and South America.

Scientists led by Dr Cyril Caminade, from the University of Liverpool, used climate models to predict how changing conditions might affect Asian tiger mosquito distribution.

They wrote in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface: "Mosquito climate suitability has significantly increased over the southern UK, northern France, the Benelux, parts of Germany, Italy, Sicily and the Balkan countries."

The research shows that parts of the UK could become hot-spots of Asian tiger mosquito activity between 2030 and 2050.

The mosquito has been introduced into Europe from Asia via goods shipments, mainly used tyres and bamboo.

Climate change is now shifting conditions suitable for the insect from southern Europe to central north-western areas.

The mosquito could survive in water butts and vases, and may find winter protection in greenhouses, said the researchers.

They wrote: "Effort should be made to conduct surveys for A. albopictus in countries that are described as high risk for its future establishment, and we also highly encourage a wide surveillance for this invasive species at the European level.

"These include Cyprus, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Macedonia, Portugal, Turkey, the Benelux, Germany and the UK. There is a potential risk of future establishment in coastal harbour areas for most of these countries.