Mosquito species in the genus Aedes are the most invasive and aggressive mosquito pests in urban and suburban areas throughout the world. The two most problematic pests in this genus include the species Aedes aegypti and AE. albopictus, and they are more commonly known as “yellow fever mosquitoes” and “Asian tiger mosquitoes,” respectively. Yellow fever mosquitoes were accidentally transported into North America centuries ago by early colonists, and today their invasive habitat covers the southern and mid-atlantic states where they have been responsible for numerous mosquito-borne disease outbreaks in the past, most notably during the Spanish-American war when more US troops died from yellow fever than from enemy fire. While the yellow fever mosquito is an aggressive biting species that is known for transmitting the Zika virus and many other diseases, researchers believe they are now merely nuisance pests in the US.

The Asian tiger mosquito was first discovered in the US in 1985, and since then they have outcompeted yellow fever mosquitoes in urban areas throughout the south and east to become the primary mosquito pests around homes and buildings. In fact, nationwide surveys of pest control professionals consistently show that Asian tiger mosquitoes are the most commonly controlled mosquito pest on residential and commercial properties in the US. Asian tiger mosquitoes have been expanding their range northward since they were introduced into the country, and not long ago, this species established a presence in Massachusetts for the first time in history. These mosquitoes are currently found in several localities in southern Massachusetts, but experts state that they will become prevalent throughout the state within the next few years.

Just like yellow fever mosquitoes, Asian tiger mosquitoes rely primarily on stagnant water in residential yard containers for breeding, they are strongly attracted to human odors, and they are aggressive daytime and nighttime biters that carry several diseases including the West Nile virus (WNV), Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), chikungunya, canine heartworm, LaCrosse encephalitis, cache valley virus, dengue fever, and St. Louis encephalitis. While Asian tiger mosquitoes are not currently considered a major public health threat in the US, they have the potential to acquire and transmit disease pathogens in the country.

Were you aware that Asian tiger mosquitoes inhabited Massachusetts?