By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– A tiny mosquito has become a big problem here in San Bernardino County and other parts of California.
Aedes aegyptimosquitoes started popping up in California in 2013. They likely hitched a ride here on shipments from Southeast Asia.
Since then, the tenacious and prolific pest has flourished.
In 2017, the West Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District (WVMVCD)—which serves Chino, Chino Hills, Montclair, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, and Upland—recorded finding 232 Aedes aegyptimosquitoes in its traps. It went up to 388 in 2018.
So far this year, they’ve trapped 1,241, and mosquito season is still a month or more away from being over.
“And that’s just the ones that got in our traps,” WVMVCD Community Outreach Coordinator Brian Reisinger said.
Meanwhile, San Bernardino County Vector Control—which serves valley cities from Fontana to Redlands as well as the unincorporated areas and some desert communities—recorded 1,196 in 2017 and 1,381 in 2018. So far this year, the number is slightly lower at 823.
Aedes aegyptiis often called the “ankle biter.” The blood-thirsty pest earned the moniker because it typically feasts on people’s lower legs. That’s because it doesn’t fly very well so it usually hovers near the ground.
The mosquito also tends to bite its victims multiple times and will even chase after them when they try to move. It’s also known as the “yellow fever mosquito” because it can harbor the virus that causes the liver-damaging disease. Aedes aegyptialso transmit dengue, chikungunya, Zika, and West Nile viruses.
For now, West Nile is the only disease threat from the pest because there haven’t been any recorded cases of mosquito transmissions of those viruses here, but that could change if the Aedes aegypti mosquito population continues to grow.
Like other mosquito varieties, only female Aedes aegyptibite. They need the blood to develop their eggs. Males feed on nectar and other sources of sugar.
Unlike the Culex mosquito, which are native to the region, Aedes aegyptican breed in minuscule amounts of water. A smidgen of water in the crease of a tarp, a few drops in a potted plant, or a water-filled bottle cap are perfect breeding grounds for the ravenous insect.
The mosquito can fasten its eggs to the inside of containers and coat them with a protective layer that can keep them viable for a year or more. If the container gets wet and weather conditions are right, the eggs will hatch.
So just dumping water out of containers may not be enough to get rid of the pest. You also need to scrub the inside to get those eggs out.
Unlike other mosquitoes that tend to bite at dusk and dawn, Aedes aegypti—which have distinctive white stripes on their bodies and legs—pretty much bite all day long.
They also prefer human blood, which makes them especially dangerous when it comes to spreading diseases to people. Even worse, they are able to set up house inside people’s homes.
Aedes aegyptimosquitoes usually only travel several hundred feet in their lifetime, which can range from two weeks to a month, so if you discover them around your home, they are likely coming from a breeding source nearby, San Bernardino County Vector Control Program Manager Jason Phillippe said.
The Center for Disease control recommends using insect repellent with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 to ward off all types of mosquitoes. The chemicals are believed to prevent the blood-sucking pest from smelling its prey.
Bug zappers are useless for killing mosquitoes since the pests aren’t attracted to fluorescent light like other insects.
Residents should contact their local vector control agency if they notice a mosquito problem in their neighborhood. Vector control staff can set out traps and advise homeowners about the problem and ways to reduce mosquito populations.
Mosquitoes usually go dormant when nighttime temperatures reach 50 degrees or less over a couple of weeks, so we should see them subside in the next couple of months. Even so, don’t let your guard down. A little warm weather and moisture can reinvigorate them, and without a doubt, they’ll be back next year.