Horror films such as “Jaws,” “Anaconda,” and “Bird” have become cult classics that can show how scary animals are when they are around humans. And while those big animals can stir up horror in the real world, there are many small creatures that create nightmares.
Meet the invasive Aedes aegypti, an insect that really wants to bite you.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Aedes aegypti originally came from Asia, and it is believed that bamboo was shipped from China in 2001 and came to California. Today, mosquito populations are growing rapidly, and many counties in the state are trying to control their populations rather than eradicate them.
But why are these mosquitoes so scarier than other mosquitoes? Their preference for chewing humans.
Levy Sun, Communications Director of the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito & Vector Control District, said that most mosquitoes prefer to feed on birds, but in the case of Aedes aegypti, that is a completely different concern.
“These Aedes aegypti do not care about birds and other mammals and prefer to bite people,” Sun told USA Today. “They will continue to bite you for a few minutes and try to get the blood meal completely. Therefore, if you are bitten by your foot 5 times, you may only have one Aedes aegypti.”
That’s not the only difference from other mosquitoes. Aedes aegypti is more aggressive, tends to chew during the day, and can live outdoors and indoors. Also, unlike other mosquitoes, which normally stop their activity by October, they tend to be more active in the fall.
Luz Maria Robles, a spokeswoman for the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito & Vector Control District, said she even discovered that these mosquitoes were inhabited in May this year.
“I didn’t expect to find it so quickly,” she said. “This mosquito season has been extended a bit.”
Another great danger of Aedes aegypti: virus. West Nile virus is the most well-known virus that mosquitoes can carry, but these creatures can carry much more, among other things, such as Zika fever, yellow fever, dengue fever, and chikungunya fever. Mosquitoes were the cause of Zika outbreaks in Florida, Texas, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, according to Sun’s distributors.
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So far, mosquitoes have been found in 310 cities in 22 counties in California and in Utah, according to state data. According to 2017 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, mosquitoes are estimated to have inhabited almost all states in the southwest and southeast.
Robles said that it is the way mosquitoes breed that is very difficult to contain. Mosquitoes usually lay their eggs in large pools of water, but Aedes aegypti “looks like very small spots of soil.” Insects can lay eggs in bottles of water, toys, buckets, plants, and more.
“It’s also very difficult because eggs can survive for months in a dry form,” she said.
Sun added that another reason for Aedes aegypti to prosper is to “use” the people who create the conditions for Aedes aegypti to survive. They don’t fly far, that is, they usually go from garden to garden.
“These mosquitoes come from a tropical climate, and by creating a microclimate in our gardens here in Southern California, we allow them to breed,” he said. “You find them mainly in the urban environment of the city.”
One way to get rid of mosquitoes is to increase the native plants and plants in your area and remove all stagnant water. Communicate with your neighbors about doing the same thing, even in a drink container.
“You definitely have to play your part as a resident,” Robles said.
Sun added that doing these things is a much better solution than using pesticides.
“Compared to the native mosquitoes here, they may actually be more resistant to the many pesticides we put out in the garden,” he said. “Our fear is that resistance accumulates well where it is not very effective.”
When it comes to protecting the body, repellents are the best way to cover the body as much as possible, Ruth and Sun said. Mosquitoes are black and have distinctive white stripes, and if found, you will be prompted to call the local mosquitoes and vector management department.
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Mosquitoes that prefer to bite people who are thriving in California
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