Tolerance of three Aedes albopictus strains (Diptera: Culicidae) from different geographical origins towards winter temperatures under field conditions in northern Germany
The continuing spread of the Asian tiger mosquito Aedes albopictus, a vector of many arboviruses and some dirofilarial worms, in Europe calls for advanced investigations on its ecological ability to establish and overwinter in temperate, more northern geographic regions. To meet this purpose, eggs of Ae. albopictus laboratory strains of tropical, subtropical and temperate origin were exposed to field conditions during one or two winter seasons in northeastern Germany. After 1 to 16 weeks of outdoor exposure, eggs were flooded in the laboratory, and the hatching rates were determined. During the winter season 2015/2016, when temperatures reached –10°C, the subtropical strain showed hatching after all time periods while the tropical strain displayed hatching only until two weeks of cold exposure. In the winter season 2016/2017, with temperatures as low as ‒6°C, all three strains produced hatching larvae after all time periods. Both the hatching rates and the hatching behaviour differed between the strains. Larvae of the subtropical and temperate strains hatched in installments over a period of four weeks while the larvae of the tropical strain hatched within a short time period, often one week. The results of the study demonstrate that Ae. albopictus strains of different, even tropical, origin might be able to survive a central European winter, although this is likely to depend on the specific course of the temperatures. Further studies with different temperature regimes and different mosquito strains are needed to specify these findings.