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A new mosquito species invading the sunshine state

Summer is right around the corner. We all can’t wait for those relaxing nights — sharing stories with family and friends on your back porch, making s’mores by a campfire, or even going for a night swim. Summer is the perfect time to refresh! But there’s one thing that’s biting on your summer relaxation…mosquitoes. And there’s a new one lurking around Florida.

We all know Florida as the sunshine state with its warm days and beautiful beaches. Whether you live there or are planning to visit soon, it’s important to know that there’s a new mosquito species invading the area – the Aedes scapularis. The Aedes scapularis is typically found in the Caribbean and Latin America, but it has made its way to the United States. Traveling by boat or cargo ship, this new mosquito species is known to inhabit both forested and urban areas. It will lay eggs anywhere from semi-permanent pools to tree holes to containers around the home. It carries diseases that are dangerous to both humans and our furry friends.

This new, invasive mosquito species was recently found in southern Florida. We spoke to Ehrlich entomologist Marc Potzler to learn everything you need to know.  

Don’t want mosquitoes in your backyard? Contact Ehrlich today!

Mosquito biting human skin

What does it look like?

There are some visual features that can be used to differentiate between the Aedes scapularis and other Florida mosquitoes. While most mosquitoes are typically a combination of either gray, brown, black, or white, the Aedes scapularis is a combination of black and straw-colored. This mosquito species has this alternating black and straw coloring on its hind legs. It has a wide patch of silvery-white scales (hair) surrounded by light brown scales on the top of the scutum, the body segment behind the head and in front of where the wings attach. The abdomen will have a pattern of dark triangles on the center of each segment, surrounded by a straw-colored background. 

Aedes scapularis mosquito

How far will it travel?

It’s hard to say how far the Aedes scapularis will travel into the United States. This mosquito species has mostly been found in humid climates, but Potzler suspects that proper larval development sites and range of temperatures will play a larger role in their ultimate range throughout the United States.  An adult Aedes scapularis can fly up to about 20 miles at a speed of 4 MPH and it is incredibly adaptable in its habitat requirements. Consequently, there is a fairly good chance we may be seeing more of the Aedes scapularis through North America. However, being a tropical and subtropical species, it likely will not expand throughout the continent in our lifetime. The Aedes scapularis will not be able to survive the extended freezing periods of much of the U.S. Where it does become established though, there will be great potential for disease outbreak if the requisite factors fall into place.

What diseases can the Aedes scapularis carry?

The Aedes scapularis is known to carry Yellow fever, Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis, Ilheus virus, Rocio encephalitis virus, and Yunnan orbivirus. There are also major concerns for your furry friend. The Aedes scapularis can also spread heartworm, caused by Dirofilaria immitis. Potzler states that Yellow fever and encephalitis viruses can be transmitted to dogs, but a healthy dog is usually able to fight off the infection before serious symptoms show. So what does this mean for you? Just be aware of public notices for mosquitoes in your area. Alerts may be sent out on how to protect yourself if a mosquito-borne disease is near you.

How can I protect myself and my yard?

Although the Aedes scapularis is most active during and just after sunset, it can feed during the day and into the evening. Don’t want to be bothered by swatting those mosquitoes? Follow these tips for the best protection against them!

  • Avoid outdoor activities during peak mosquito times – from dusk to dawn.

  • Wear light-colored clothing as mosquitoes are generally more attracted to dark colors.

  • Wear long-sleeve shirts, pants, and socks to reduce the amount of skin exposed.

  • Use EPA-registered insect repellents to protect yourself if you cannot avoid outdoor activities.

Ehrlich also provides mosquito control services that can help prevent mosquitoes in your yard. Using Integrated Pest Management principles, a pest specialist will do a preliminary property inspection to determine the mosquito control service needed. You can also prevent mosquitoes in your yard by eliminating standing water, keeping your vegetation trimmed, and keeping your patio furniture away from dense foliage areas. Contact us today to schedule your inspection!

Woman applying mosquito repellent

What’s different from other mosquitoes?

So, what does this all mean? The unknown potential for spread combined with the capacity to vector many serious diseases is the most concerning thing about finding this species in the United States. Potzler says that the Aedes scapularis is a generalist, meaning “it will take blood from many types of vertebrates: mammals, birds, and even reptiles and amphibians. This can increase the potential for it to effectively vector more types of pathogens, compared to a mosquito that primarily feeds on one class of vertebrate.” The Aedes scapularis feeds on both animals and humans, posing the possibility of a spillover event. However, this situation is extremely rare. 

“If a mosquito takes a blood meal from an animal infected with a pathogen and subsequently bites a human, that pathogen may be transmitted to the human. It is the pathogen causing the spillover event more so than the vector, though both are necessary. In order for the spillover to occur, the pathogen would need to be able to survive and reproduce inside of the new host, and be re-transmitted by a subsequent mosquito bite. This is evolution in process, and is fairly rare despite the numerous new diseases that have been identified in recent years (COVID, Zika, etc).”
–Marc Potzler, PhD. 

We, hopefully, won’t need to worry about a spillover event.

Call a professional

Don’t let mosquitoes ruin your summer nights! If you’re experiencing problems with mosquitoes, it’s best to contact us, the professionals, to do a proper inspection. Call Ehrlich at 888 984 0186 for all your mosquito control services to make sure you can enjoy a relaxing summer.

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