As if being one of a few states to suffer the local spreading of the Zika Virus by mosquitoes wasn’t enough, we now have two new mosquito breeds in the state. For the first time in mainland Florida, Culex panocossa and Aedeomyia squamipennis were discovered in Homestead, Florida by University of Florida researchers. These two mosquitoes are native to Central and South America and are thought to have migrated to Florida on plants.
Researchers were surprised by this discovery, due to the distance between Florida and their native locations. Entomologist, Nathan Burkett-Cadena told the Miami Herald, “This would speak to some broader environmental changes that have caused Florida to be more accessible and hospitable to tropical mosquitoes,” In other words, the warming planet has made this possible.’
Reason for Caution
Culex panocossa and Aedeomyia squamipennis both are capable of carrying dangerous mosquito-borne viruses. Laying their eggs on water lettuce, and invasive weed, these mosquitoes are likely to multiply and spread easily.
Aedeomyia squamipennis feeds mostly on birds. While that is good for us in so far that we will find them to be less annoying, they can pick up West Nile Virus or Eastern Equine Encephalitis which could be passed on to humans and other mammals by a single bite. This mosquito is also known to spread bird malarias, including a strain that “wiped out many of the songbirds in Hawaii.”
Culex panocossa could likely pose a more urgent threat to humans than its counterpart. It has been confirmed as a vector of Venezuelan equine encephalitis, a condition that is especially threatening to children and the elderly. It also carries the Everglades virus. In the past, mosquitoes in the Everglades tend to stay there, so the Everglades virus has not become widespread. But with new vectors who could thrive outsides of the Everglades, transmission could become more common in humans.
Mild forms of the virus can cause symptoms that seem flu-like along with achy joints. Severe cases of Everglades virus could lead to brain swelling (encephalitis) that can cause comas. Everglades virus has not so far proven fatal.
With the total number of invasive mosquitoes discovered in Florida now numbering nine, it is more important than ever to exercise caution and vigilance in mosquito safety and mosquito control. While keeping your yard free of standing water and debris by following the T’s of mosquito control is a great first step, call Mosquito Squad of Greater Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra to eliminate 85-90% of mosquitoes from your property. Sign up for the season, and we’ll automatically come back every three weeks to keep you pest-free all season.