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California's unwanted guest: The Aedes aegypti mosquito

Mosquitoes have always been a nuisance, buzzing around and leaving those irritating, itchy bites. However, it's not just the itchiness that's the issue. Some mosquitoes, like the Aedes aegypti, pose a significant threat due to the pathogens they may carry that can cause various diseases, including dengue fever. 

In California, populations of invasive Aedes mosquitoes have been increasing rapidly this year due to heavy winter rainfall and continue to spread to more counties each year.1 The California Department of Public Health has created a map that highlights counties in California where an invasive species has been found. With the recent outbreak in more counties in California, it's crucial to understand what sets the Aedes aegypti mosquito apart from your typical mosquito and why we should be concerned.

Mosquito on skin

What is the difference between Aedes aegypti and normal mosquitoes?

Mosquitoes share some basic traits, such as their diet of nectar and the need for blood by female mosquitoes to nurture their eggs. However, the Aedes aegypti mosquito, also known as the yellow fever mosquito, is unique in several ways. 

Unlike other mosquitoes that tend to bite during dusk or dawn, the Aedes mosquito primarily feeds during the day. This mosquito is also one of the most dangerous as it can transmit serious diseases such as dengue fever, Zika virus, chikungunya, and yellow fever.

Where do they live? 

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is actually not native to states like California. They were first spotted in 2013 in Central Valley and Southern California. Since then, they have started spreading more north over time due to travel and climate change. They primarily thrive in southeastern states such as Florida and Texas due to their warmer climates. However, they have continued to spread throughout states like California and Arizona over the last few years. 

What happens if you get bitten by an Aedes mosquito?

An Aedes aegypti mosquito bite might just leave a small, itchy bump, but the bigger concern is the potential transmission of serious viruses. This mosquito spreads diseases like dengue fever, chikungunya, Zika, and even yellow fever. If an infected Aedes aegypti bites you, it can inject the virus directly into your bloodstream while feeding. 

It can take anywhere from a few days to a week for symptoms to appear, depending on the specific virus. These can range from flu-like aches, fever, and rash (dengue) to severe joint pain (chikungunya) or birth defects (Zika). If you live in an area where these mosquitoes are present and experience concerning symptoms after a mosquito bite, be sure to tell your doctor.

What do yellow fever mosquitoes look like?

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is not your average mosquito. It's relatively small, but its dark body with white stripes and harp-shaped patterns on the thorax make it stand out. These unique markings, along with its distinctive white-striped legs, give it a look that's hard to forget, making it relatively easy to identify compared to other mosquitoes. 

Aedes Mosquito

How do you get rid of the Aedes aegypti mosquito?

Dealing with the Aedes aegypti mosquito requires a comprehensive approach focused on prevention and control. Since these mosquitoes can spread serious diseases, it's crucial to take steps to reduce their presence in your environment. Here are some helpful tips to prevent and get rid of mosquitoes:

  1. Eliminate standing water: Empty, cover, or treat any containers that hold water, such as buckets, planters, bird baths, and trash containers, to prevent mosquito breeding.

  2. Use mosquito repellents: Apply insect repellent that contains DEET, Picaridin, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus on exposed skin, following the product's instructions.

  3. Install screens: Ensure windows and doors have tightly fitted screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home.

  4. Wear protective clothing: When possible, wear long sleeves, pants, and socks to minimize skin exposure, especially during the day when these mosquitoes are most active.

  5. Maintain yard and garden: Regularly mow lawns and trim shrubs to reduce resting spots for adult mosquitoes.

  6. Professional mosquito control: In areas with a high concentration of Aedes aegypti, consider hiring a professional. At Western Exterminator, our mosquito control services effectively target and help reduce mosquito populations, ensuring your outdoor spaces are safer and more comfortable. 

If you need help with mosquitoes, contact us today for expert mosquito control services!

¹ Information on increased mosquito populations in California provided by the University of California.

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