Summer skeeters

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first_imgBy Elmer GrayUniversity of GeorgiaWith summer just around the corner, nuisance populations of Asiantiger mosquitoes are soon to follow. One of Georgia’s most commonmosquito pests, the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedesalbopictus), thrives as temperatures rise.Asian tiger mosquitoes were introduced into this country inHouston, Tex., in the mid-1980s. Since then, they’ve spreadthrough much of the eastern United States. They’re not thought tobe major disease carriers yet in this country. But they areaggressive daytime biters, so considerable efforts are spenttrying to reduce their larval habitats.These mosquitoes are black and white, with a characteristicmedian, white stripe on the thorax, lateral stripes on theabdomen and striped legs. These markings and their aggressivedaytime biting make them fairly easy to identify.Mosquito havensThey prefer to breed in any kind of container that will holdwater. The container breeding and daytime activities make themhard to control through conventional practices such aslarge-scale treating with larvicides and adulticides.The best way to prevent nuisance populations is simply toeliminate all forms of standing water around our homes andneighborhoods. Target buckets, pet dishes, tarps, toys, usedtires and any debris that will hold water.And don’t just check once. Getting rid of standing water aroundour homes and neighborhoods should be a way of life, not aone-time or even a once-a-month routine.Asian tiger mosquitoes aren’t strong fliers. They often don’tmove more than 100 yards from where they hatch. So, if you have alot of them around your home, you won’t have to look far to findtheir larval habitat.Swarms of skeetersThat is far different from what many Georgia residents face inthe lower portion of the state. There, large lowland areasprovide ideal breeding sites for many native mosquito species.South Georgians don’t want to think of Asian tiger mosquitoes.They’ve been dealing with heavy populations of other mosquitoesfor more than two months as a result of the heavy rains in earlyspring and wet conditions stretching back to last year’shurricane season.Native flood-water mosquitoes have been particularly troublesomewhere most low-lying areas have been inundated with water forlong periods over the past eight months.Fortunately, no significant mosquito-borne disease outbreaks havebeen reported, although two cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitishave been reported this spring.DiseasesThese have involved a horse from Bacon County and a flock ofquail in Lanier County. Both are indicators that there is viralactivity in the local mosquito populations. People who live inthese areas should be particularly cautious.On the West Nile virus front, news has been quiet so far thisseason. As of May 16, no WNV-positive birds, horses, mosquitoesor humans have been reported this year.That’s not completely unexpected, since the peak period for WNVin Georgia continues to be August and September. The peak periodcoincides with hurricane season, and last year’s active seasonmay have suppressed West Nile activity.In Georgia, the primary carrier of West Nile virus is theSouthern house mosquito (Culex quinquefasciatus). Thismosquito breeds regularly in storm drains and sewer systems,which are flushed of stagnant water by periods of heavy rain.In 2004, Georgia had 22 verified cases in humans, with one death.Three horses and 105 birds tested positive for the virus.Nationwide, 2470 human cases and 88 deaths were reported in 41states.(Elmer Gray is an Extension Service entomologist for theUniversity of Georgia College of Agricultural and EnvironmentalSciences.)last_img

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