Buzzz! New breed of pests in South

Published 12:01 am Friday, June 28, 2013

Those pesky summer guests – you know, the ones that buzz – may be a little peskier this year. Because there’s a new species of pests invading American towns – the Asian tiger mosquito – and with recent rains, there will soon be ample breeding grounds for it and fellow members of its species.

Named for the black-and-white stripes on its body, the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) was first brought to Texas in a shipment of tires – which are notorious for holding the standing water that mosquitoes require for breeding – the Wall Street Journal reports.

The bug is worrisome for several reasons: Unlike other mosquitoes, the aggressive Asian tiger bites all day long, from morning until night. It’s partial to humans, but also attacks dogs, cats, birds and other animals.

The Asian tiger mosquito joins other insects now threatening U.S. residents. Gallinippers (Psorophora ciliata), for example, are a type of shaggy-haired mosquito with an unusually painful bite; they’re currently found throughout much of Florida.

But few insects are as effective at spreading illness as the Asian tiger mosquito, say scientists. The pest can transmit more than 20 diseases, according to the Cornell Chronicle, including West Nile fever, dengue fever, yellow fever and two types of encephalitis.

Since its introduction to the United States in the 1980s, the Asian tiger mosquito has spread to 26 states, primarily in the eastern United States, the CDC reports. The bug is also established in South and Central America, southern Europe and several Pacific islands.

Part of its success at spreading throughout the world is due to a warming climate, but the Asian tiger mosquito has one other pesky adaptation: Its eggs are tough enough to survive a cold winter, according to Science News.

If there’s a silver lining to this story, it might be this: 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 reports.

The Auburn Extension Office maintains the best way to reduce the mosquito population is remove any standing water where baby mosquitoes can develop, i.e., stagnant ponds, poorly maintained fountains/pools, tree holes, abandoned tires, birdbaths and buckets.

Also, keep the grass mowed and all dense brush and vegetation from around buildings gone to eliminate adult resting sites.