Tiger mosquitos invade New Jersey

By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com   |   June 25, 2013 at 2:36 PM   |   Comments

June 25 (UPI) -- Cicadas aren't the only insect buzzing around New Jersey this summer.

The Asian tiger mosquito, a relatively recent arrival, has distinct black and white markings and a distinct lack of shyness about biting people midday.

Aedes albopictus has been a resident of New Jersey since at least 1995, when it was discovered in Monmouth County. It has since spread north to Bergen and Passaic counties.

"The Asian tiger mosquito is an extremely aggressive insect that has largely supplanted japonicus since 2008, especially in urban and suburban areas," said Eric Green, mosquito control officer in Passaic County. In fact, it could be "a more efficient disease vector, especially for West Nile virus," he said, because "it bites in daytime and could put more people at risk."

Asian tiger mosquitos are also known for spreading dengue fever, eastern equine encephalitis and chikungunya fever. In New Jersey, West Nile and equine encephalitis are the greatest concerns.

Pete Rendine, the chief inspector for mosquito control at the Bergen County Public Works Department, said the bug infestations are fairly easy to squash.

"The thing is, if homeowners would only clean up their property we would not even have an albopictus problem," Rendine said.

Even a tiny amount of stagnant water can make a happy home for Asian tiger larvae, but killing them is straightforward.

"This is how you kill them," Rendine said, dumping a cup of water out onto the ground. "That's it. That's all there is to it. Without water, they die."

The larvae take about seven days to develop into adults, so just five days of standing water is enough time for them to grow.

"If everybody did their part, this mosquito could be eliminated," Green said.

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