Aedes albopictus (Diptera: Culicidae) monitoring in the Lazio region (central Italy).
The Asian tiger mosquito Aedes albopictus (Skuse 1894) is assuming an ever-increasing importance as invasive species in Europe and consequently as human health and nuisance concern. In Central Italy, the species has been recently involved in a chikungunya outbreak. A 3 yr Ae. albopictus monitoring was carried out in 21 municipalities of the Lazio region (Central Italy), belonging to three provinces. Samplings were performed on a weekly basis using ovitraps, in order to investigate climatic and spatial variables driving egg abundance and Ae. albopictus period of activity. A temperature of 10.4°C was indicated as lower threshold for the onset of egg-laying activity, together with a photoperiod of 13:11 (L:D) h. The whole oviposition activity lasted 8 mo (May-December), with 95% of eggs laid between early June and mid-November and a peak at the end of August. Egg abundance was positively influenced by accumulated temperature (AT) of the 4 wk preceding sampling and negatively by precipitation during the week before. Egg-laying activity dropped with decreasing AT, increasing rainfall, and with a photoperiod below 10:14 (L:D) h. Our results pinpointed the importance of fine-scaled spatial features on egg abundance. Some of these fine-scaled characteristics have been highlighted, such as the presence of vegetation and human footprint index. Our model estimated an almost doubled maximum number of laid eggs for the maximum value of human footprint. Compelling evidence of the relevance of fine-scaled characteristics was reported, describing cases where human-made breeding sites driven the abundance of Ae. albopictus.