Learn about these distinct species that threaten humans
Ever since Zika made its way into the headlines and the human vernacular, a lot has been written and said about Aedes aegypti, the main culprit in spreading the virus. While this pesky pest has enjoyed the spotlight, another mosquito, Aedes albopictus, has been more of a silent partner in viral crime.
Since both species are known for spreading yellow fever, dengue, and chikungunya, scientists were naturally suspicious that they also could spread Zika. Last year, the Pan-American Health Organization released its findings that a sample of A. albopictus taken in Mexico tested positive for Zika.
A. aegypti is the primary vector for Zika
Also known as the Yellow Fever mosquito, A. aegypti is the center of attention in the fight against Zika because of its ability to breed in the smallest amount of water and to feed exclusively on people. According to the CDC:
- A. aegypti has a bright, silvery lyre-shaped dorsal pattern and white banded legs
- It bites, rests, and lays its eggs outdoors and indoors
- It’s found in tropical, sub-tropical, and in some temperate climates. In the United States, its range stretches from southern New England down to the Southeast, across the lower Midwest, and then stretches along the US/Mexican border to the lower half of California.
- This is a sneaky, daytime biter, often settling down for a quick bite when you’re not looking.
A. albopictus is the secondary vector for Zika
Because A. albopictus prefers feeding on animals rather than people (although it does), it is generally not considered a primary transmitter of Zika. Now that it’s confirmed to carry Zika, scientists are giving A. albopictus a closer look because of some of its traits.
- A. albopictus, the Asian Tiger mosquito, has a single silvery, longitudinal dorsal stripe and white-banded legs
- It prefers to breed, rest, and lay eggs outside, usually in rural and garden areas
- It’s found in tropical, sub-tropical, temperate, and cooler areas, and this is why scientists are taking notice. Because it can tolerate cooler temperatures, A. albopictus has a broader range. In the United States, the range begins in New England and reaches all the way down the East Coast into the Southeast, across the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys, the Upper Midwest, down to Texas, and across New Mexico and Arizona to California.
- This is an aggressive, daytime biter
Looking for the next outbreak
Whether it’s Zika or any other mosquito-borne virus, it’s no longer a matter of “if” but of “when” will the next outbreak occur – and the steps to an outbreak can happen in four easy steps:
- One or more people are infected with a virus like Zika.
- A. aegypti or A. albopictus bites the infected person during the first week of infection when the virus can be found in a person’s blood.
- The infected mosquito lives long enough for the virus to multiply and for that mosquito to bite another person, transmitting the virus through its saliva.
- The cycle continues multiple times to start an outbreak.
Controlling daytime mosquitos on the home front
Since both mosquito species are daytime biters, controlling them is difficult. Most municipal pesticide and fogging efforts take place in the evening hours and are aimed at stopping the insects from breeding. Homeowners and business owners can combat mosquitos on their property by removing standing water and installing an automatic misting system.
Platinum Mosquito Protection offers such a system for residential, commercial, and agricultural properties in Florida. Through the use of a timer, you control when to mist. Our team of professionals will guide you through the process.
For a free onsite consultation, contact us today.