Arthropoda: Insecta: Diptera: Culicidae: Aedes albopictus [return to Home Page]

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Scientific name: Arthropoda: Insecta: Diptera: Culicidae: Aedes albopictus
Common Name: Asian Tiger Mosquito

Country: USA
State/District: MD
County: Montgomery
Date: May 2001

Photographer: E. M. Barrows

Identifier: E. M. Barrows
Collector: not applicable
Location: Garden-1, Bethesda, Maryland
Keywords: A alien invasive species Asian Tiger Mosquito Forest Ecology Garden-1 Glover-Archbold National Park
Additional Information:

Figure 1.   An Asian Tiger Mosquito feasting on my leg, 13 August 2001.
Figure 2.   Almost immediately after an Asian Tiger Mosquito bite my wrist, my skin turned pink in the area of the bite, 16 August 2001.   Some people display whitened raised areas very soon after this mosquito bites them.

Gardening with Tigers Of the Six-legged Kind

(15 August 2001, 10 August 2002)

      Many nongardeners certainly don't appreciate that fact that we gardeners have to be a very tough lot to meet our many challenges each year.   In 2001 for example in the Washington, D.C., Area, very cold nights in the 20s and days above freezing in January, killed many heather plants and other small shrubs in my neighborhood which we had to replace.   In May, weeds started growing rampantly as usual, and we have to weed vigilantly much of the rest of the warm season.   I continually cut back the highly aggressive invasive Winter Creeper (graciously left by the former owner of my home) in many areas of my yard.   I also make sure that no volunteer seedlings of other extremely aggressive vines — Asiatic Bittersweet, Japanese Honeysuckle, and Porcelainberry — grow in my garden.   The dreaded, prickly Mile-a-minute Vine has not yet dared to sprout in here.   Occasional, temporary swarms of a gray species of blackfly (Simuliidae) come and go.   They buzz around me and don't bite, but do make me itch when they land on me.   In June, I rescued my roses and other plants from Japanese Beetles.   I picked off the beautiful beetles and froze them.   In August, a dry, very hot spell made us water our treasured, vulnerable plants some of which had scorched leaves.

      From May through the end of the warm season, local gardeners now also have to deal with the ferocious Asian Tiger Mosquito.   In 1999, this blood-thirsty fly invaded my garden, creating yet a new challenge.   It probably entered the U.S. in about 1985, in Houston, Texas in tire castings from Japan.   This insect is now in at least 24 states of eastern U.S.   Before 1999, I could garden in my yard in shorts and a T-shirt, and get only an occasional mosquito bite throughout the warm season.   It's new tougher ball game now.   Tiger bites are highly aggravating; further, this Mosquito can spread diseases including Dengue fever, Dog Heartworm, encephalitis, West Nile Virus, and Yellow Fever.   At present (10 August 2002), I don't know of any diseases that this mosquito transmits in the conterminous U.S.

      The Tigers lurk in my garden from May through October.   Anytime day or night, even in bright sun, one, or more, is likely to find an unprotected part of my body from which she can extract her delicious blood meal.   To reduce chances of getting bites I cover my skin with heavy, loose cloths and insect repellent.   I did this today during mid-day, but forgot to cover a few places.   Before I knew it I had seven bites (including on my scalp and on my back where the sangivores bit through my shirt).

      When a Tiger bites, I often feel a very slight, almost unnoticeable pin prick.   If I am concentrating hard on gardening, I might not feel their bites initially.   After a Tiger feeds and leaves me, I quickly feel a stronger pin prick, and then itchy skin which can last up to 30 minutes or more per bite.   This year, I've gardened in shorts and tried to ignore the Tigers.   This resulted in cases of scabby ugly legs from my scratching the bites of these microvampires.

      The Tigers have now trained me to look for any standing water in my yard daily.   If I see any large wiggling larvae or pupae in plant saucers, I quickly empty them. These mosquitoes can develop in a very small "pond," even in a cap from a jar.   There are small ponds in my gutters when debris stops the water from draining fully.   To remove these ponds I clean the gutter every several days, or when I am in a hurry, I squirt dishwashing detergent into the gutter ponds.   Even when I control the Tigers in my yard, their armies still invade from my neighborhood.

      Dinner on my deck when we can enjoy my Dipladenia splendens together?   Well yes, if you are protected from the Tigers.   A citronella candle helps.   Covering your skin with clothes and insect repellent (with DEET) help even more.   Some people recommend a repellent with about 35% DEET for effective mosquito control.   A good application should last for hours, but it depends on how much you sweat.   When I worked in the Everglades, I applied repellent with DEET about every 15 minutes because I perspired so much in hot, humid, July.   Without these protections, the Tigers might eat more than you do.

      Goldfish and Guppies are great Tiger eaters in my two little garden ponds with Lemna and Wolffia.   When the fish are in the ponds, I find no mosquito larvae in my water samples.   The Goldfish can survive in the ponds in cold through hot weather, but the Guppies quickly die if the water temperature remains below 70 degrees F for a few days.

      The Tigers are just one species of the thousand of alien, invasive species that have invaded our bodies, farms, forests, gardens, livestock, yards, and elsewhere, creating havoc and costing the U.S. about $270 billion annually.

  Please click here for more information on the Asian Tiger Mosquito.

  Please click here for more information on the Asian Tiger Mosquito from the Texas Cooperative Extension Service.

  Please click here for more information on the Asian Tiger Mosquito from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Moore, C. G. and C. J. Mitchell.   1998.   Aedes albopictus in the United States: Ten-Year Presence and Public Health Implications. Internet file. (10 August 2002)

  Please click here for more information on the Asian Tiger Mosquito.

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