Get Ready Mailbag: What’s the deal with Asian tiger mosquitoes?

Welcome to another installment of the Get Ready Mailbag, when we take time to answer questions sent our way by readers like you. Have a question you want answered? Send an email to getready@apha.org.

Q: Mosquitoes where I live are driving me crazy this year, even during the day. Someone said the kind we have are called tiger mosquitoes. Why are they so bad!?

Asian tiger mosquito A: Ugh, we know what you mean. Mosquitoes are the worst, especially when they seem to be all over the place in the summer. And it’s not just those itchy bites you have to worry about. Mosquitoes can spread diseases, like West Nile virus, dengue and Zika.

The mosquito you are thinking of is the Asian tiger mosquito, also known as Aedes albopictus. They are dark, small bugs with white stripes and long legs. They are called “tiger” mosquitoes because of their black and white pattern, but they have nothing to do with actual tigers — other than the fact that they may make you roar in frustration.

Asian tiger mosquitoes came to the U.S. mainland in the 1980s through used tire shipments. Since then, they’ve spread across the U.S. Today, they can be found in more than half of U.S. states.

 The thing that makes Asian tiger mosquitoes so dang annoying is that they love to bite during the day. They like to hang out in the shade and bite any person or animal who comes by.  They are also super-fast biters and can pinch into your skin before you can swat them away. Yikes!

The good news is you can control and avoid them in pretty much the same way you do other mosquitoes. They breed in containers in wet places, so be sure to regularly empty outdoor water sources like flower pots, buckets, garbage cans, pet water bowls, clogged gutters, outdoor toys and birdbaths. Use screens in your doors and windows, and always wear insect repellent and clothing that covers up your skin when outside.

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