My roomate, who is something of a bug magnet, had an Asian tiger mosquito land on his shirtsleeve May 5 while in our backyard. Do you know of any agency that would be interested in this sighting near Augusta? – L.H.
A: I am not sure who to contact, but it is in my column now for everyone to see. Asian tiger mosquitoes were first brought to the United States from Asia in tires. Their first stop was Houston. Since then they have been found in the Southeast and up the East Coast. These mosquitoes are black with white stripes, and are easy to recognize.
The Asian tiger mosquito is an aggressive biter that prefers to feed in the daytime rather than in the evening, as other species do. It will bite humans, domestic and wild animals and birds. It is a potential carrier of St. Louis encephalitus, eastern equine encephalitus, dengue, yellow fever and dog heartworm and has been found to carry West Nile virus. Yellow fever is an extremely serious disease that is not established in the U.S. Although the Asian tiger mosquito is a competent laboratory vector of several viral pathogens, there is no evidence to date that this mosquito has caused human disease in the U.S.
These mosquitoes breed in standing water – even very small containers. Controling them means keeping containers free of water. Old tires, bird baths, pools, flower pots and anything that will hold water is a potential breeding site.
Spraying from trucks used to be popular in many areas, but now more reliable methods of control are used, such as looking for and removing breeding sites.
When you go outside, wear a good non-DEET mosquito repellent. Never use the DEET products because some people have severe reactions to it.
It is a fact that DEET works well as long as it is full strength.
When it begins to weaken, though, it attracts mosquitoes and you have to put more on, which means absorbing more of the chemicals into your system. Every year, one-third of the population uses insect repellants containing DEET, available in more than 230 products with concentrations up to 100 percent.
There are very effective alternatives to DEET repellants and we should use them. I use Greenbug when I go outside in mosquito season.