These mosquitoes ‘prefer to bite people.’ Meet the invasive insect ravaging the West Coast

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Horror movies like “Jaws” “Anaconda” and “The Birds” became cult classics with the potential to show just how scary animals can be when humans are around. And while those large animals can create fear in the real world, there are plenty of smaller creatures that can also cause nightmares.

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Meet the invasive Aedes mosquito, an insect that really wants to bite you.

Originally from Asia, the Aedes mosquito is believed to have arrived in California in 2001 from a consignment of bamboo from China. According to the Los Angeles Times. Now, the mosquito population has grown so rapidly that many counties in the state are trying to control the population rather than eliminate it.


But what makes these mosquitoes so much more terrifying than the others? His preference for biting humans.

Levi Sun, communications director for the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District, said most mosquitoes prefer to eat birds, but with Aedes mosquitoes, it’s an entirely differentiable.

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“With these Aedes mosquitoes, they don’t care about birds or other mammals, they like to bite people,” Sun told USA Today. “They will constantly try and bite you over the course of a few minutes to get a complete blood meal. So when you have five bites on your legs, it could be from just one Aedes mosquito.”

The differences from other mosquitoes do not end here. Aedes mosquitoes are more aggressive, bite during the day and can live outdoors and indoors. They are more active during the fall, unlike other mosquitoes, which usually cease activity by October.

Luz Maria Robles, public information officer for the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District, said she also found these mosquitoes alive in May of this year.

“We just didn’t realize we were going to find them so soon,” she said. “This mosquito season is kind of extending.”

Another major threat to Aedes mosquitoes: viruses. West Nile virus is the most commonly known virus that mosquitoes can carry, but these critters can carry a lot more, such as Zika, yellow fever, dengue and chikungunya, among others. According to the agency of the sunMosquitoes were responsible for Zika outbreaks in Florida, Texas, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

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So far, mosquitoes have been found in 310 cities in 22 California counties. according to state data, Too as in Utah. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2017 It is estimated that mosquitoes were present in almost all the southwest and southeast states.

Robles said that preventing mosquitoes is so hard because of how they reproduce. Typically, mosquitoes lay their eggs in large bodies of standing water, while Aedes eggs “look like very small particles of dirt,” and insects can lay them on water bottle caps and on things like toys, buckets, and plants. Huh.

“Eggs can survive for several months in dry form, so this is also very difficult,” she said.

How small are the eggs of the Aedes mosquito on a plant.

Sun also added another reason for the Aedes mosquitoes to thrive is that they “took advantage” of people creating conditions for them to survive. They don’t fly far, which means they usually move from yard to yard.

“These mosquitoes come from tropical climates, and the microclimates we create in our yards here in Southern California, we allow these mosquitoes to thrive,” he said. “You find them mainly in urban environments in cities.”

One way to get rid of mosquitoes is to have more native plants and vegetation in your area and get rid of all stagnant water—even in drinking containers—as well as with neighbors to do the same thing. to communicate about.

“You definitely have to do your part as a resident,” Robles said.

Sun said that doing those things is a much better solution than just using pesticides.

“Compared to the native mosquitoes here, they may actually be more resistant to a lot of the insecticides we put in our yards,” he said. “Our fear is that resistance will be built up enough where it is not as effective.”

To protect your body, repellent is the best way to go, as well as covering the body as much as possible, Luz and Sun said. Mosquitoes are black with distinctive white stripes, and if they are seen, people are urged to call their local mosquito and vector control department.

Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jordan_mendoza5.

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