Asian mosquitoes are as ferocious as their namesakes, tigers — and they’re the latest disease-carrying pest to invade the United States in droves.
The Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), which was first brought to Texas in a shipment of tires (in the rain water that collects inside the rims) in the 1980s. They have black-and-white stripes on their bodies.
They have currently invaded twenty eastern states in America, and at the rate they’re advancing, they will soon come to yours.
What makes the Asian tiger mosquito have a bad reputation?
The sheer tenacity of its attacks are one of the reasons these mosquitoes have a bad reputation for ferocity.
While other mosquitoes, in general, attack one at night, the merciless Asian tiger types bite all day long, from morning throughout the night. Also, though it loves attacking humans, they also attsck other animals, including goats, cows, and dogs and cats.
According to Dina Fonseca, associate professor of entomology at Rutgers University:
“Part of the reason it is called ‘tiger’ is also because it is very aggressive. You can try and swat it all you want, but once it’s on you, it doesn’t let go.”
The Asian mosquitoes are very effective at transmitting diseases, which is another reason their spread is feared. According to the Cornell Chronicle, the pest transmits more than 20 diseases, including West Nile fever, dengue fever, yellow fever and two types of encephalitis.
Besides these diseases, the mosquitoes transmit the chikungunya virus. This virus is rarely fatal, but chikungunya can cause causes debilitating symptoms, including severe joint pain, fever, achiness, headache, nausea, vomiting, rash and fatigue.
Though there’s no vaccine to prevent chikungunya and nthere’s no treatment for it, people usually recover in a few weeks.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), when people are infected with the virus, they can be bitten again by another mosquito, which could then spread the disease to someone else.
A giant mosquito called the Gallinippers (Psorophora ciliata) for example, is a type of shaggy-haired mosquito whose bite, it’s said, feels like being stabbed. They’re currently found throughout much of Florida.
According to Science News, the warming climate is one reason behind the rapid spread of these mosquitoes, but perhaps a more major one is that the Asian tiger mosquito’s eggs are tough enough to survive a cold winter.
The Asian tiger mosquito is displacing another disease-carrying mosquito species, Aedes aegypti. Every time a male Asian tiger mosquito mates with a female A. aegypti, chemicals in his semen make her sterile, Science News further relates.
To prevent the further spread of the Asian tiger mosquitoes (and all mosquitoes) experts recommend removing all sources of standing water, wearing insect repellent and covering up with long sleeves and pants to avoid the bloodthirsty and ferocious mosquitoes and the diseases that they are known to carry.
Written by: Douglas Cobb