Asian Tiger Mosquito has stripes

The hot summer and frequent rains are bringing out more mosquitoes than we usually see. A larger mosquito, the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), is becoming the one that many in Frederick County are trying to swat. About twice the size of our common variety mosquito which comes out around dusk or dawn, tiger mosquitoes can be out at all times of the day. The import of goods from Asia to the U.S. has also brought along this invasive insect, which is native to Southeast Asia. If a black mosquito is seen with white stripes, it is the Asian tiger mosquito.

Credit: - James Gathany/CDC

As is the case with all mosquitoes, only the females bite. The males are a little smaller than the females, with minor variation in the striping pattern. The females lay about 100 eggs after a blood meal, and can produce eggs several times during their two week to one month adult lifespan. Several lifecycles are the norm in our area; Asian tiger mosquitoes are active May through October.

More versatile with regard to habitat than our native variety, the tiger mosquito breeds in wet areas with eggs hatching in even as little as an ounce of water. Breeding is found even in small pockets of water that may collect in items left outside, including cans and trash.

However, the Asian tiger mosquitoes are not found to fly far from their breeding areas, mainly staying within 200 yards of breeding sites. With a faster bite, this mosquito is hard to swat before extracting its meal from unsuspecting people or animals.

Insect repellant is a good investment when outdoors with mosquitoes present, as the Asian tiger mosquito is known to transmit diseases (including West Nile virus) to humans, and heartworm to dogs.

The recent introduction of the Zika virus to the U.S. had added to the risk of disease from this pest. Eliminating standing water near your home, even very small amounts, will help reduce bothersome populations.

A Frederick News Post article by Sylvia Carignan on Aug. 10 noted that the Maryland Department of Agriculture has started spray programs in Frederick and other areas targeting the Asian tiger mosquito as a vector for Zika.

Article by Tom Anderson, FCFCDB member

Nature Note for 10/9/2016