Saturday, June 22, 2019

Two Invasive Mosquito Species

Aedes mosquitoes (2 kinds):
Aedes albopictus — Asian Tiger mosquito
Aedes aegyptai S. American Tiger mosquito 

Before these two Aedes species arrived, most of our mosquito bites came from a genus of mosquito known as Culex. These mosquitoes still make up the majority of the biomass of the biting portion of the mosquito population; but, because they’d rather bite birds than humans, they don’t bother us as much. Aedes mosquitoes, on the other hand, prefer humans and will even follow you into your car or home to get a meal.

Their coloring — black with white stripes on their legs and thorax — makes them harder to see than the amber-colored Culex. What’s more, Aedes prefer to bite people below the knee where they are less likely to be observed. The two types of mosquitoes also have different biting styles. Aedes females are skittish, and they will attack several times in a row to get enough blood to lay their eggs.
A Culex mosquito prefers to take one long, lazy drink. That makes it easier to slap and kill her before she can fly away.
The Culex’s egg-laying strategies differ as well. Culex females generally lay a raft of 100 eggs on a fairly sizable body of water — an ornamental pond, a neglected swimming pool, a bucket of water, a bird bath. Dump out the water and the eggs die. Aedes females use those sources of waters too. However, because their larvae can survive in just one-eighth of an inch of water, they can also lay their eggs along the edge of a plant saucer, in a bottle cap or even in the depression of a wrinkled old bag of chips that gets hit by a sprinkler.
Aedes lay a few eggs here, a few eggs there because they don’t know which one of these little sources is going to dry up. They don’t want to put “all their eggs in one basket”.
Aedes will also attach their eggs to the dry surface of a container, which means they can survive even if the water gets dumped out. The next time the container fills with water, the eggs will hatch — even if that’s five years later.
All this has made controlling Aedes extremely difficult. Field agents used to just trudge through people’s backyards and walk right to that swimming pool or right up to that hot tub and find what they were looking for. Now they have to check for signs of mosquito larvae in upturned bottle caps embedded in ivy, in starter plants adorning the porch and in the saucers beneath potted plants.
The good news is that local neighborhoods have the power to stop Aedes mosquitoes from breeding, at least in their immediate area.
The Aedes mosquitoes rarely fly more than 200 yards in their lifetime. That means if you and your neighbors remain vigilant about emptying even tiny sources of standing water on your properties, you can keep them under control.

Asian Tiger Mosquitoes, 
Aedes albopictus
S. American Tiger Mosquito, 
Aedes aegyptai

Note: There are about a dozen kinds of bothersome mosquitoes in the region where I live. The most bothersome for me are a tiny brown kind that stay low to the ground and your feet. Over the years, I have actually only seen a few of these  on me despite numerous bites. They are so furtive and so fast that you’ll never nail one. I tried using a flashlight shining on my bare feet last night while standing in the grass to spot them, but they wouldn’t make an appearance. Hmmm? Maybe this is an alternative way to repel them if you don’t mind keeping a bright flashlight pointed at your feet?

As for the other kinds, their modus operandi is fairly standard. Fortunately, they do not all live in the same habitat and are, therefore, scattered around.

P.S.- Use catnip spray as a repellent. It’s odorless and natural. I like 
Catit Liquid Catnip Spray, 3 Ounces; but there are multiple other sources.
[If you have a cat, you might become irresistible?]