Environment

New Invader: Asian Tiger Mosquito Found in County

Another daytime-biting, invasive mosquito thought to have been killed off here more than a decade ago has been discovered in San Diego County.

San Diego County vector control inspectors said they found Asian tiger mosquitoes in routine trapping in Barrio Logan. The Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, is very similar to the Aedes aegypti, or yellow fever mosquito, that was found in San Diego County for the first time nearly a year ago.

Both mosquitoes are small with distinctive black and white markings. They like living in urban areas and indoors, and they like to feed during the day, from sunrise to sunset, rather than primarily at dusk and dawn like native mosquitoes. They can breed in very small amounts of water inside and outside of homes, in small containers like flowerpots, saucers and tires. The Asian tiger mosquito got its name from the white “tiger” stripes on its body.

Both the Asian tiger mosquito and the yellow fever mosquito can transmit diseases to people. However, the diseases they are most known for carrying — yellow fever, chikungunya and dengue fever — are tropical diseases that are rarely seen in San Diego County unless travelers contract them elsewhere and return here.

Nevertheless, environmental and public health officials are working to keep both mosquitoes from establishing themselves in California because they can transmit disease.

Officials said people should look around their homes and dump out any standing water — inside and outside — that could serve as breeding spots. San Diego County officials said people might want to report to County vector control occurrences when mosquitoes are biting during daylight hours indoors.

The Asian tiger mosquito, which is native to the tropical and subtropical areas of Southeast Asia, was first found in Southern California in 2001 and was believed to have hitchhiked its way in on imported nursery items. San Diego County officials believed they had eradicated it here in 2001 until the recent find. The pest has infested communities in Los Angeles County and has been spreading in the last year and a half.

San Diego County vector control teams have been putting up additional monitoring traps for the mosquito near where it was found and handing out information to urge the public to be on the lookout for the pest and eliminate standing water.

Officials said the public should remember to follow the general “Prevent, Protect, Report” mosquito-fighting message they’ve used for the County’s “Fight the Bite” West Nile virus prevention campaign.

Prevent Mosquito Breeding: Dump out or remove any backyard or indoor item that can hold water, such as plant saucers, rain gutters, buckets, garbage cans, toys, old tires, and wheelbarrows. Mosquito fish, available for free, may be used to control mosquito breeding in backyard water sources such as unused swimming pools, ponds, fountains and horse troughs.

Protect Yourself from Mosquito Bites: Protect yourself from mosquito bites that can transmit disease. Wear long sleeves and pants when outdoors. Use insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 when outside. Make sure screens on windows and doors are in good condition and secured to keep insects out.

Report Green Swimming Pools and Mosquitoes Biting During the Day Indoors: Report incidents of neglected swimming pools or areas of standing water that could be mosquito breeding areas — and mosquitoes biting indoors during daylight hours — to the Vector Control Program at (858) 694-2888 or vector@sdcounty.ca.gov.

For more information about County Vector Control, go to the program’s website.

Gig Conaughton is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact