The Asian tiger mosquito is a relatively new intruder to America but has now populated more than half of the nation’s states and is become a serious concern. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe this mosquito species acts as a host for five different viruses which can infect humans as well as dogs, cats, birds and other animals. Perhaps most worrying is the concern that the Asian tiger mosquito could be the prime vector for the Chikungunya virus in North America.
Before you get too alarmed, here is what you need to know about these dangerous pests and how you can protect your family.
The Asian Tiger Mosquito’s Appearance
The bold black and distinctly silver-white scales make it visually distinguishable from other mosquito species. It is of a similar size though at approximately 2 – 10mm with the males on average being 20% smaller than the females.
Where You Will Find Asian Tiger Mosquitoes in DC?
Asian tiger mosquitoes are mostly found in containers of water such as buckets, trash cans, clogged roof cutters and wading tools. They don’t require much water for the ideal breeding habitat, just enough to lay their eggs. Incredibly mosquito larva of this species can develop into an adult in as little as a tablespoon of water. The Asian tiger mosquito is nicknamed the ‘container breeder’ as they prefer not to deposit their eggs in bodies of water with a natural soil substrate like puddles or swamps.
You will find an increase in the mosquito in shady garden areas as they prefer not to spend too much time in the harsh sunlight. Containers holding water in shaded areas are also less prone to evaporation and the air flow is generally reduced. The perfect environment for mosquitoes and their breeding cycle. The foliage of shrubs and fallen leaves also creates an ideal secluded home for the pests to hide out.
The Times of Day You Might Come in Contact with an Asian Tiger Mosquito
The Asian tiger mosquito is only active during daylight hours and into dusk. They are considered to be more timid and sneaky compared to the common mosquito. They prefer to target bare ankles, the back sides of your arms and legs rather than buzzing around your face or forearms. Chances are you won’t see the mosquito in action as it tucks in for a bite!
Diseases the Asian Tiger Mosquito Is Known to Spread
In areas surrounding Virginia and Maryland the Asian tiger mosquito have been known to transmit diseases including West Nile virus, La Crosse encephalitis, yellow fever and the Eastern equine encephalitis. Even more of a concern, this species of mosquitoes can potentially be the primary vector of serious tropical diseases like dengue and in particular Chikungunya which currently we do not have a vaccine or treatment for.
Strategies to Reduce Your Exposure to the Asian Tiger Mosquito
The best way you can protect your family and reduce the population of the Asian tiger mosquito is to destroy their breeding habitats. Besides wearing personal protection such as insect repellent and clothing to cover up exposed skin, you should be vigilant with removing all sources of standing water. This includes plastic cups, plant trays, old tires, wheelbarrows, wading pools, plastic toys etc. Focus also on clearing the leaves that have gathered under your trees and shrubs.
As the Asian tiger mosquitoes spend most of their time hiding within foliage, they don’t spend much time flying around. This means aerosol sprays are less effective on controlling this species. Direct spraying by a professional with a back-pack fogging or the installation of a barrier spray system is the most effective solution to treating the Asian tiger mosquitoes’ environments. If you are seeing a rise in the number of mosquitoes in your neighborhood and concerned about Asian Tiger Mosquitoes in DC, why not give your local DC Mosquito Squad representative a call to discuss your options on the ultimate mosquito protection.