Mosquitoes and Culicoides biting midges: vector range and the influence of climate change

A.R.W. Elbers*, C.J.M. Koenraadt, R. Meiswinkel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

81 Citations (Scopus)


Vector-borne animal diseases pose a continuous and substantial threat to livestock economies around the globe. Increasing international travel, the globalisation of trade, and climate change are likely to play a progressively more important role in the introduction, establishment and spread of arthropod-borne pathogens worldwide. A review of the literature reveals that many climatic variables, functioning singly or in combination, exert varying effects on the distribution and range of Culicoides vector midges and mosquitoes. For example, higher temperatures may be associated with increased insect abundance – thereby amplifying the risk of disease transmission – but there are no indications yet of dramatic shifts occurring in the geographic range of Culicoides midges. However, the same cannot be said for mosquitoes: over the last few decades, multiple Asian species have established themselves in Europe, spread and are unlikely to ever be eradicated. Research on how insects respond to changes in climate is still in its infancy. The authors argue that we need to grasp how other annectant changes, such as extremes in precipitation (drought and flooding), may affect the dispersal capability of mosquitoes. Models are useful for assessing the interplay between mosquito vectors expanding their range and the native flora and fauna; however, ecological studies employing classical mark-release-recapture techniques remain essential for addressing fundamental questions about the survival and dispersal of mosquito species, with the resulting parameters fed directly into new-generation disease transmission models. Studies on the eventual impact of mosquitoes on animal and human health should be tackled through large-scale integrated research programmes. Such an approach calls for more collaborative efforts, along the lines of the One Health Initiative.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-137
JournalRevue scientifique et technique / Office International des Epizooties
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • rift-valley fever
  • possible windborne spread
  • long-distance dispersal
  • bluetongue virus
  • variipennis diptera
  • borne disease
  • species range
  • british-columbia
  • aedes-albopictus
  • insect migration


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