The invasive mosquito Aedes albopictus is currently distributed in most of the southern Mexican region. Since the species was first recorded in the state of Tamaulipas, in northeastern Mexico in 1988, it has expanded its distribution throughout the Sierra Madre Oriental and Gulf of Mexico to the Neotropical region of the country. Currently the species occurs in the states of Tamaulipas, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Veracruz, Chiapas, Morelos, Quintana Roo, Sinaloa, San Luis Potosi, and Hidalgo. This is the first report of the mosquito in the states of Tabasco and Yucatan and the confirmation of its presence in Quintana Roo state. Aedes albopictus has been incriminated as a secondary vector of diseases such as those caused by dengue, chikungunya, and Zika viruses, which have caused epidemic outbreaks in most tropical and subtropical regions of Mexico; therefore, surveillance for the detection of Ae. albopictus is paramount so that targeted control strategies can be implemented for its control throughout Mexico.
The Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes (Stegomyia) albopictus (Skuse), is the most invasive mosquito species worldwide (GISD 2017). Aedes albopictus has a Pantropical distribution and has been reported in 81 countries (WRBU 2005). The introduction of Ae. albopictus into the American continent occurred in the 20th century, where it was detected for the first time in the USA in Harris County, Texas, breeding in discarded tires imported from northern Asia (Sprenger and Wuithiranyagool 1986, Hawley et al. 1987, Reiter and Sprenger 1987, Craven et al. 1988), and it rapidly adapted to the Nearctic environmental conditions of the southern United States. This species was detected for first time in Mexico in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas in 1988 (Francy et al. 1990) and since then has had a rapid and successful dispersion in almost all tropical and subtropical regions of the country. Currently Ae. albopictus has been reported in the states of Tamaulipas (Francy et al. 1990, Ibáñez-Bernal et al. 1997, Reyes-Villanueva et al. 2013, Ortega-Morales et al. 2015), Coahuila (Ibáñez-Bernal and Martínez-Campos 1994, Rodríguez and Ortega 1994), Nuevo Leon (Pesina et al. 2001, Orta-Pesina et al. 2005, Reyes-Villanueva et al. 2013), Veracruz (Flisser et al. 2002), Chiapas (Casas-Martínez and Torres-Estrada 2003), Quintana Roo (Salomón-Grajales et al. 2012), Morelos (Villegas-Trejo et al. 2010), Sinaloa (Torres et al. 2015), San Luis Potosí (Ortega-Morales and Siller-Rodríguez 2016), and Hidalgo (Ortega-Morales et al. 2016) (Fig. 1).
In Mexico, Aedes aegypti (L.) and Ae. albopictus are the most important mosquitoes responsible for the transmission of arboviruses such as dengue (DENV), chikungunya (CHIKV), and Zika (ZIKV). Consequently the distribution and colonization of those species in new regions are systematically monitored by personnel from the Mexican vector-borne disease surveillance and control programs (SEGOB 2015) and many other research groups. To update the checklist of mosquito species in the southeastern states of Mexico, which include the Yucatan Peninsula region (states of Campeche, Yucatan, and Quintana Roo) and Tabasco state, mosquitoes in their different stages of life (larvae, pupae, and adults) were collected during the dry and rainy seasons of 2015–17. The collecting methodology consisted of the search for immature stages of mosquitoes in all available breeding sites, such as artificial containers (vases, bottles, buckets, discarded tires) and natural containers (bamboo internodes, tree holes, axils of plants). In addition, ovitraps (a black plastic container of 1-liter capacity filled with potable water with germination paper strips on the inner edge of the water, where gravid females lay eggs) were also used in the study areas together with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) light traps, a BDV tent trap, and landing/biting catches. All collected specimens were transported alive to the Molecular Biology Laboratory of the Agrarian Autonomous University Antonio Narro Laguna Unit (UAAAN-UL). Adult mosquitoes were killed in lethal chambers and kept in nitrogen vapor until identification. Immature stages were reared individually to obtain larval and pupal skins. The ovitraps strips were transported to the Regional Center for Public Health Research (CIRSP-INSP) and placed in trays filled with water for emergence. All specimens were identified using available taxonomic keys. All material was deposited in the Culicidae Collection of UAAAN-UL (accession numbers CUA1414-B and CUAC1414-C) and in the Biological Collection of Mosquitoes of Medical Importance at CRISP-INSP.
The present study reports the presence of Ae. albopictus in 4 municipalities in Tabasco (Huimanguillo, Teapa, Tacotalpa, and Villahermosa), 3 in Quintana Roo (Cancun, Felipe Carrillo Puerto, and Tulum), and 1 in Yucatan (Tizimin) (Table 1). This is the first record of Ae. albopictus in the states of Tabasco and Yucatan; so far, it has not been detected in the state of Campeche. Since the discovery of the presence of Ae. albopictus in Mexico, the species has widened its distribution in Nearctic and Neotropical regions of the southeastern part of the country, and it is now established in many physiographic regions, such as the Sierra Madre Oriental, the coastal plain of the North and South Gulf, the Yucatan Peninsula, and the Sierra Madre of the South. In these regions, Ae. albopictus finds favorable environmental conditions for its development, such as abundant vegetation, a humid and warm climate, and great availability of natural and artificial breeding sites within human settlements. Some cities on the Yucatan Peninsula, such as Cancun, Tulum, Playa del Carmen, and Chichen-Itza, are some of the main tourist destinations in Mexico. Therefore, the probable presence of Ae. albopictus in these cities could represent an important risk of infection of DENV, CHIKV, and ZIKV for domestic and international travelers.
Because of its medical importance, we recommend widening the surveillance of this species to other regions of Mexico, especially the Pacific coast (states of Guerrero and Oaxaca) and along the southern border.
We thank Salvador Morales-Avitia and Martha Ortega-Lozano for their valuable collaboration during field collections trips in Tabasco state and Miguel Muñoz-Reyes, José L. Aguilar-Rodriguez, and Martin Vázquez-Castillo for their support on collection trips in the Yucatan Peninsula. We also thank the Secretary of Public Education (SEP-PRODEP) and the National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO) for providing funds to carry out the field trips of this study project: “Taxonomic inventory of some groups of haematophagous nematoceroids (Lower Diptera) in the state of Tabasco, Mexico” (Grant No. CUAC1414) and “Diagnosis of the current status of biological invasion of Aedes albopictus in the main protected natural areas of the Yucatan Peninsula” (Grant No. LI040).