The Asian tiger mosquito (ATM) is a serious nuisance at best and a potential public health threat at worst. This aggressive day-biting mosquito prefers mammals: humans, cats, dogs, etc., but will occasionally feed on birds. It is capable of transmitting 30 viruses and the dog heartworm. This accidentally introduced species probably occurs throughout Kentucky.
The ATM (Figure 1) can carry the chikungunya virus, which has been in the news lately. Cases of this mosquito-borne disease have been diagnosed in the U.S. in people who have been in the Caribbean recently. So far, there has been no indication that transmission has occurred yet in the U.S.
Breeding Areas and Management
ATM larvae develop in water that becomes trapped in natural cavities (tree holes, etc.) and artificial containers. Adults tend to stay within 200 yards of their breeding site so source reduction around your property is important. Small accumulations of water (as little as 1/4 inch) are enough to produce several adults in just over a week. Discarded tires are a common breeding site, but crushed aluminum drink cans are suitable, too. Eliminate standing water: change pet watering dishes, dump overflow dishes for potted plants, and change bird bath water frequently. Do not allow water to accumulate in tires, flower pots, buckets, rain barrels, gutters, etc.
Use personal protection to avoid mosquito bites. Wearing loose-fitting clothing that covers most of the skin and using insect repellent, such as DEET, picaradin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus, will reduce the number of bites. The ATM can feed anytime during the day and usually remains outdoors. There are distinct peaks of activity in early morning and late afternoon. Limiting outdoor activities during dawn and dusk can help to avoid their bites if mosquitoes are very abundant.
By Lee Townsend, Extension Entomologist