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Asian Tiger Mosquito

From Academic Kids

Asian Tiger Mosquito
Aedes albopictus on Homo sapiens
Aedes albopictus biting a human
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Arthropoda
Class:Insecta
Order:Diptera
Suborder:Eudiptera
Suborder:Culicomorpha
Superfamily:Culicoidea
Family:Culicidae
Subfamily:Culicinae
Tribe:Aedini
Genus:Aedes
Species:A. albopictus
Binomial name
Aedes albopictus
Skuse, 1895

Aedes albopictus (Family Culicidae), the Asian Tiger Mosquito or Forest Day Mosquito, is characterized by its black and white striped legs and small, black and white body. Other North American mosquitoes such as Ochlerotatus canadensis have a similar leg pattern. Asian Tiger Mosquitoes were first found in North America in a shipment of used tires at the port of Houston in 1985. Since then they have spread across southern USA, and as far up the East Coast as southern New Jersey. This species is an introduced species in Hawaii as well, but has been there since before 1896.

This mosquito has become a significant pest in many communities because it closely associates with humans (rather than living in wetlands), and typically flies and feeds in the daytime rather than at night or at dusk and dawn. It is a container and puddle breeder, needing only a few ounces of water to breed. It has a short flight range (< 200 m), so breeding sites are likely to be close by where you find this mosquito (Nishida & Tenorio, 1993).

It has not been implicated as a carrier of West Nile virus, but can carry Eastern Equine Encephalitis. It is also a known vector of dengue fever in the Pacific.

Controlling Asian Tiger Mosquitoes

A lot of futile and risky spraying has been done in the last few years because of the West Nile virus scare. This mosquito is active in the day time and so is identified if people are being bitten in the day time. Most mosquito spraying is done at night and will have little effect on Asian Tiger mosquitoes. (Daytime spraying is usually a violation of label directions because of foraging bees on blossoms in the application area.)

Missing image
Ditch_litter_5622.jpg
Litter in roadside ditches
makes an ideal Asian tiger breeding ground.

It is however, simple to find and deal with the breeding spots, which are never far from where people are being bitten, since this is a weak flyer. Locate puddles that last more than 3 days, sagging or plugged roof gutters, old tires holding water, litter, bird baths, kiddie pools, and any other possible containers or pools of standing water. Flowing water will not be a breeding spot and water that contains minnows is not usually a problem, because the fish eat the mosquito larvae. Dragonflies are also an excellent method of imposing control. Dragonfly larvae eat mosquito larvae in the water, and adults will snatch adult mosquitoes as they fly. Insecticide application that also kills dragonflies may actually cause only a brief suppression of mosquitoes, followed by a long term increase in populations.

Whenever possible, all sources of standing water, even if only a quarter cup, should be dumped every three days. Litter, especially containers in ditches, can hold water after the ditch dries up, and all litter should be cleaned up. Bird baths, wading pools, and any other container that can hold rainwater should be emptied. Rain barrels used for garden irrigation, and many other containers that cannot be dumped can be treated with a spoonful of vegetable oil, which will suffocate mosquito larvae as they try to breathe at the surface.

Any standing water in pools, catchment basins, etc, that cannot be drained, dumped, or treated with a small quantity of vegetable oil, can be periodically treated with Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis. This is a disease organism that only affects the pest insects. It is readily available at farm, garden and pool suppliers.

Reference

  • Nishida, G.M. and J.M. Tenorio. 1993. What Bit Me? Identifying Hawai'i's Stinging and Biting Insects and Their Kin. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu. 72 pp.
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