The Asian tiger mosquito is the most common daytime biting mosquito in the Carolinas. This mosquito was accidentally brought into the United States from Asia in used tires. It quickly spread into the southern United States during the late 1980’s. This mosquito spreads dog heart-worm, encephalitis, Dengue fever and may be a vector of West Nile virus.
Unlike many native mosquitoes, the Asian tiger mosquito does not breed in swamps or other wet natural habitats. This mosquito breeds in artificial containers such as rain gutters, bird baths, flower pots, tires, barrels, boats, tarps, cans, and garden pools. They can also breed in tree holes and other natural reservoirs that hold water. They feed mainly during daylight hours, making them a major urban pest for gardeners and other people working or playing outside. Only the female mosquitoes feed on blood, which they use in producing eggs. These eggs can hatch in 24 hours and the emerging larvae (wrigglers), feed on microscopic pieces of organic matter. In about a week they pupate. The pupae (tumblers) last for a few days and swim in the container if disturbed. Adults emerge and the females can bite a day or so later. Females can survive for a month or more.
If breeding sites cannot be drained there are some homeowner products that can be added to small water systems to kill the wrigglers. These products are usually a floating device that releases a beneficial bacteria, Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis), into the water. When the larvae feed on the bacteria, they die. These products, if applied properly will not hurt children, pets or wildlife. These products are designed to treat only small containers, tree holes or ponds. Large bodies of water should only be treated by mosquito control professionals. Before any pesticide is applied always read the label and follow the directions and safety precautions exactly.
You can reduce the chance of being bitten by Asian tiger mosquitoes by wearing insect repellents and long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors. There are a variety of products available. Products with the active component DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) work to repel all mosquitoes. Many products have different concentrations of DEET.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control recommends that DEET products should be applied sparingly to exposed skin. Most effective repellents will contain 20 percent to 30 percent DEET. Products with more than 30 percent DEET may cause side effects, mainly in children. Repellents may hurt the eyes and mouth, so do not put repellent on the hands of children. No insect repellents should be used on children under 3 years of age. Apply repellents only as directed by the manufacturer’s directions for use on the label. Wash off the repellent when you go back indoors.
Are These Breeding Sites on Your Property?
- Plastic Tarps
- Clogged Rain Gutters
- Plastic Buckets
- Children’s Toys
- Bamboo stumps
Originally published 10/02