Click on image to enlarge.
Scientific name: Arthropoda: Insecta: Diptera: Culicidae:
Common Name: Information Sheet 1, Asian Tiger Mosquito 2008
Photographer: E. M. Barrows
Identifier: E. M. Barrows
GU Forest Ecology Organism Information Sheet (2005, last updated August 2008)
Domain Eukarya: Kingdom: Animalia: Phylum Arthropoda: Order Diptera: Genus Aedes
Aedes albopictus*, Asian Tiger Mosquito*
I. General Information
A. What is the etymology of Aedes albopictus?
(Greek Aedes, disagreeable; Latin albo < albus, white; Latin pictus, painted; English tiger, referring to the white stripes of this species)
B. What is the taxonomy of A. albopictus?
C. What is the native range of A. albopictus?
(Aedes albopictus occurs naturally throughout the Oriental Region from the tropics of Southeast Asia, the Pacific and Indian Ocean Islands, north through China and Japan and west to Madagascar (Crans 2006). Aedes albopictus breeds in tree holes that hold water. Crans (2006) reports that the known introduced range of A. albopictus is “North and South America, with more recent introductions having occurred in Africa, Australia and Europe, where it is established in Albania, Italy and also France (Eritja et al . 2005). In the United States, it is established in most states east of the Mississippi River as far as Minnesota and Delaware (Source: Novak). In Europe, the patchy distribution is probably more related to specific transport incidents than to the climatic needs of the species (Roger Eritja, pers.comm., 2006); Spain (Aranda et al. 2006); Greece (Samanidou et al. 2005).” Wikipedia (2008) states that A. albopictus is now as far north as Germany and along the Maine coast in the US.
This mosquito has invaded many parts of the world because people have spread it in the tire trade and nursery trade (Crans 2006). Immatures enter countries (e.g., in California, US) in the water in Lucky-bamboo (Draceana spp.) from China and tires (e.g., Texas, US). This species breeds well in all kinds of artificial containers with water, even tiny ones such as bottle caps.)
D. How long can a A. albopictus live?
(An A. albopictus that develops from a nondiapausing egg may live as long as 4 weeks in nature, but I know of no data on this subject. If a mosquito develops from a diapausing egg, it may live for about 7 months. For example, it could diapause from October through May, develop into an adult in about 10 days in spring, and live as an adult for about 10 days. )
E. What are the general morphological characteristics of A. albopictus?
(Adults of A. albopictus are about 5 mm long. An adult is a small, fragile insect with a slender body, one pair of narrow wings, and three pairs of long, slender legs. Both sexes have elongated proboscides (singular proboscis) used for sucking blood and nectar by females and sucking nectar by males. )
F. What is the life cycle of A. albopictus? (Aedes albopictus is a holometabolous species with four life stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adults. Crans (2006) describes the life cyle of this species.
Eggs. A mother A. albopictus lays about 150250 desiccation-resistant eggs above the surface of the water in tires, treeholes, or other water-holding containers. Eggs hatch when they are inundated by water in a container. Strains of A. albopictus from temperate areas produce eggs that can diapause if their mothers sense low temperatures and short photoperiods. So far, only eggs that can diapause can survive habitats that are north of the 10°C-January isotherm
Larvae, pupae, adults. In Bethesda, Maryland, which is adjacent to WDC, larvae, pupae, and adults occur from May through October (personal observation).
II. Ecological Roles
A. What are general ecological roles of A. albopictus in forests?
(Aedes albopictus is a heterotrophic organism that is food for many other organism species. Larvae are detritivores and predators of bacteria, sometimes small insects, and small protistans. Adults are blood and nectar feeders, and might pollinate.)
B. What are specific ecological roles of A. albopictus in US forests?
(Larvae are likely to be common in forest lakes, ponds, puddles, and other bodies of water where they are food of predaceous aquatic insects (such as damselfly larvae) and fish (such as Guppies, Minnows, Mosquito Fish, and other small fish). Adult females might suck and feed on blood from terrestrial forest vertebrate species, including birds and mammals. Adult males do not bite vertebrates, but feed on nectar from many kinds of plants including goldenrods and wild asters (personal observation). Some bird, lizard, mantid, and other predators might consume A. albopictus.)
III. Other Information
A. How do Humans benefit from A. albopictus?
(Some people make money by controlling A. albopictus with pesticides including Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis which can be purchased as mosquito dunks or pellets that one puts into water. This bacterium kills A. albopictus larvae before they become adults. This bacterium might not harm nontarget organisms except other mosquito species. Some pest controllers may make money by spraying pesticides to control this pest. Some scientists study this mosquito and publish valuable scientific work regarding it. )
B. What should we do to reduce environmental damage of A. albopictus?
(See below. This species competes for resources (e.g., food and living space) that native aquatic and terrestrial animals also use. Disease transmitted by this species might kill conservations and others.)
C. Is A. albopictus dangerous to Humans?
(Aedes albopictus feeds on many mammal species, and is a vector of Chikungunya Virus (CHIKV) and Dengue Fever* and a potentially effective vector of Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Japanese Encephalitis, and LaCrosse Encephalitis (LACV) which can harm and kill Humans. In total A. albopictus is known to be receptive in field conditions to one Alphavirus (EEE), six Bunyaviruses (Cache Valley, Jamestown Canyon, Keystone, LaCrosse, Potosi, and Tensaw), and three Flaviviruses (Dengue, West Nile, and Japanese Encephalitis) (Crans 2006). This mosquito species carries pathogens that kill some bird species (West Nile Virus), Humans (CHIKV and Dengue Virus), and possibly other species. Dengue Fever occurs in Hawaii and Mexico (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2008).
Aedes albopictus is hardier than most other mosquito species in the WDC Area. It breeds in objects that hold water (even just a few ounces) such as clogged rain gutters, flower pots, old soda cans, and tires. It bites frequently that other Area mosquitoes. It bites throughout a day, even in areas in direct sun. In summer 2001, I had many bites on my legs. They were itchy and became infected when I did not treat them with an antiseptic lotion. Researchers in New Orleans tried for almost a decade to breed a cannibal mosquito to try to control the A. albopictus population there. They were not successful. Other US researchers are also studying A. albopictuss habits and trying to find ways to control it. This species is out-competing the native mosquitoes of the WDC Area which are a much less aggressive human biters. “They re tearing us up. And we just basically gonna keep getting ate alive,” said Quayshawn Briscoe, 20, a resident of Fairmount Heights, one area of inner-Beltway Prince Georges that has a dense population of Asian Tiger Mosquitoes, (Saulny 1999, C1, illustration of A. albopictus).
F. What is the brief history of A. albopictus in the US?
(History of the Asian Tiger Mosquito (ATM) in the U.S. ( Ruane 2001)
1985, about. Aedes albopictus probably arrived in Houston, TX in tire castings from Japan.
1997. Aedes albopictus appeared in Baltimore, MD; Prince William County, VA.
1999. Frances Fischer (GU Class of 2001) found A. albopictus on GU Campus.
2000. Aedes albopictus is present in 23 states and WDC (DE, IN, MD (10 counties), VA).
20002008. Aedes albopictus bite many GU Forest Ecology students.)
G. What is the brief history of West Nile Virus* (WNV) in the US?
(1937, about. A researcher named this virus after the West Nile District, Uganda, where a researcher first isolated it from a febrile woman in 1937.
1999. The WNV, an African virus, appeared in New York City, U.S. It might have infected up to 13,000 people in New York. This virus causes no symptoms through fever and sore joints through death, depending on the person.
1999. The WNV killed 35 people in Israel.
2001. By 27 July, 150 birds were infected with WNV. Maryland had the greatest number of dead birds (71 out of 150) infected with the WNV (Maryland Department of Agriculture 2000). The Virus is now from New England through Florida. People found one infected bird in WDC and one in VA.
2008. Summer. A researcher found WNV in birds in Montgomery County, MD, which is adjacent to WDC.)
H. Besides spreading disease and disrupting ecosystems, why is A. albopictus such a human pest?
(Aedes albopictus is a ferocious biter. It bites day and night, and in air temperatures from about 65°F and higher. In contrast, many other kinds of mosquitoes tend to bite only during certain hours of the day, e.g., early evenings. Aedes albopictus bites through clothing such as socks, sweat pants, and light denim shirts. It does not bite through denim of jeans. When I work in my yard, A. albopictus quicky finds places where it can bite me, such as through light clothes, and on my exposed skin that is not coated with an insect repellent.
I. So what can we do to reduce the numbers of A. albopictus in our yards in our neighborhoods?
1. Eliminate all standing water in your flower-pot dishes, gutters, and so forth.
2. Search for small breeding places that might be hidden in your yard, e.g., bottle caps, toys, pools of water on tarps, and so forth. Eliminate these breeding places.
3. Maintain fish in your garden pool(s). If you cannot maintain fish throughout the Tiger adult season (April through November), drain your pond and fill it in with earth or put mosquito dunks (http://www.pestproducts.com/mosquito_dunks.htm) into your pond. I had three biologically interesting little garden pools in my garden, but removed all of them in the 1990s because of the Tiger Mosquitoes.
4. If you have water dishes beneath your flower pots or other vessels of water that you want to keep in your yard, empty them at least every 6 days to stop the development of any immature mosquitoes in the vessels. If you pour the water on the ground where it will flow into the ground, the mosquito larvae will die because they obtain their food from water by filtering out organic material.