Spring’s warmer weather may bring back the Asian tiger mosquito, an insect that has breaded in the state of Maryland since 1987, according to Hyattsville Director of Public Works Lesley Riddle.
Riddle, who has been the director for a few weeks, has worked in the area for many years and believes the most important way to solve the mosquito problem is to inform the public of ways they can help reduce the population.
“They are certainly nasty,” she said, “and they survive quite well in this area…They love standing water. It must be stagnant for them to lay their eggs on. This includes bird baths and water in tires.”
University of Maryland Entomology professor Dr. Michael Raupp also said these mosquitos breed in Maryland because of the large amounts of standing water in the area. “They bite people during the day time, and they have been implicated in the transmission of West Nile Virus,” he said.
Source: The Bird Man
Raupp explained that there are “a million reasons” why these particular mosquitos are worse than others but the main cause of their danger is their diurnal lifestyle, which means they are awake and active during the day when humans are out the most.
The Asian tiger mosquitos are not native to this area and are believed to have come from Asia during the international trade of used tires, according to the Maryland Department of Agriculture.
Riddle said the Department of Agriculture is currently using a natural pathogen to localize the populations. “We cannot sustain spraying [other pesticides] because it has residual effects on other insects, as well as predators who eat those insects,” she said.
The use of the spores produced by the bacteria, Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti), does not kill the mosquito larvae but prevents maturation to the adult stage. This method of control is labor intensive due to the innumerable breeding sites, according to the Department of Agriculture.
Raupp said the best way to stop the spread of these insects is to get rid of standing water, wear protective clothing and use repellents. He also said these mosquitos are not only a nuisance but also a carrier of West Nile Virus.
“There were a couple cases [of West Nile Virus], so it is certainly is a concern, but the bottom line is the cases have been few and far between…it is important that the municipalities and the public work together to combat the issue,” Riddle said.
The Asian tiger mosquitos reach their peak in the summertime, but it also depends on the number of high-degree days, according to Riddle.
“It really varies and depends on the winter and spring months. Any insect population is cyclical so it is very hard to judge when it could get bad,” she said.