As we enter the middle of May, the weather in Central Massachusetts gets warmer and more humid. Regular readers of our blog know that it’s already mosquito season…and that our long winter means more snow-melt…and therefore many more mosquitoes than usual. But you might not know how many kinds of mosquitoes there are in Massachusetts or the specific threats they can pose. Make sure that you have a safe and pest-free season with the best information and prevention available…with Mosquito Squad of Central Mass.
What are the most prevalent breeds of mosquitoes in our area?
There are over 50 different breeds of mosquitoes in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health Bureau of Communicable Disease Control has produced a PDF describing the types of mosquitoes in our state that are most likely to carry disease. Of the eight “most wanted,” only six regularly bite humans and other mammals. For convenience, we’ll focus on these six.
The top six mammal-biting mosquitoes in Massachusetts are
- Aedes albopictus
- Aedes vexans
- Coquillettidia perturbans
- Culex salinarius
- Ochlerotatus Canadensis
- Ochlerotatus japonicus.
Of these six, at least two, Aedes albopictus (Asian Tiger Mosquito) and the Ochlerotatus canadensis (Woodland Pool Mosquito) hunt by day, not at night. The others hunt starting at dusk and all night. Therefore, you are wise to be prepared for mosquito attacks around the clock!
Several kinds of mosquitoes, including the Asian Tiger, have also adapted to colder weather and survive well into the fall so make sure your family and animals are protected until the first frost.
Aedes albopictus is the infamous Asian Tiger Mosquitoknown for its daytime feeding, aggressive behavior, as a disease vector, and for its particularly painful bite. Within a generation of its arrival from Asia, the Asian Tiger mosquito has become a growing public health concern. Adult female Asian Tigers lay their eggs near stagnant mud and water, and even in tree hollows and other damp locales. They’re crafty and adaptable, needing very little water or space to lay eggs.
Aedes vexans is commonly known as the Inland Floodwater Mosquito. Their eggs lie in dry areas until floodwaters come so the eggs can flood and hatch. This mosquito likes freshwater pools and smaller depressions. A container with temporary water will attract them, though they’re partial to sun and larger pools. If you have standing water near a wooded area, you will need to watch out for them. You might also come upon them in ditches while you’re walking along a wet dirt road. They overwinter as eggs and the adults can survive into October. They’re happy to travel from their breeding sites to find a blood meal.
Coquillettidia perturbans is the technical name for the Cattail Mosquito. You might have heard of this one. It too is very persistent and can fly long distances – up to a mile at a time! In addition, you will need to watch for this one in any outdoor container that containing standing water, because the Cattail Mosquito will claim that water for its eggs.
Culex salinarius is commonly known as the Unbanded Saltmarsh Mosquito. They can be found all over New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, and as their name suggests, love salt marshes – though they’re not fussy and will breed in fresh water too. Swamps and decomposing vegetation make for good breeding places too. As climate change produces longer winter thaws, the Unbanded Saltmarsh Mosquito will continue to thrive. Unlike some of their cousins, however, they are susceptible to cold snaps in the fall and die off as the weather turns colder.
Ochlerotatus canadensis [Aedes canadensis] is known as an aggressive breed that will bite and feed in daylight. They are commonly called Woodland Pool Mosquitoes. It’s a pretty name, but they are not! They love woodland pools and damp areas nearby, even temporary ones, and they’ll wait in the shade and bite their hosts there. The eggs survive the winter and then hatch as soon as the weather warms up slightly.
Ochlerotatus japonicus [Aedes japonicus] is a very recent arrival from Asia. It is known in this country as the Asian Rock Pool Mosquito. Like its cousin the Asian Tiger Mosquito, it is thought to have landed in the US in tire shipments.
Which diseases can these mosquitoes carry?
All of the abovementioned mosquitoes can carry encephalitis. Other frequently studied mosquito-borne diseases include West Nile virus and related disorders, the Dengue fever virus, the Chikungunya virus (Asian Tiger Mosquito), Yellow Fever, and Malaria. Symptoms of these diseases include generalized body aches, high fevers, headaches, rashes, and sometimes swollen lymph glands. As with many diseases, the very young, elderly and those with compromised immune systems are more susceptible. For the most part, people recover from these viruses, but very occasionally, victims have suffered from confusion, muscle weakness, convulsions, brain swelling, and in vary rare circumstances even coma and fatalities.