Asian Tiger Mosquito
Aedes albopictus

How did it get here?

Asian Tiger Mosquito Range MapThe Asian tiger mosquito hitched a ride to the United States in used tires imported from Japan or Taiwan. It was first discovered in the continental United States in 1985 in Houston, Texas. The insect is native to New Guinea and the islands in the Indian Ocean, ranging westward to Madagascar, northward through India and Pakistan, and through China to Korea and northern Japan.

How to spot

Aedes albopictus has striking black-and-white checkered legs and a white “racing stripe" that runs down the Illustration of Asian Tiger Mosquito - Ohio Statetop of its thorax. Its abdomen has an incomplete, white stripe that appears as a series of bold, white dots. If you receive a bite early in the morning or late afternoon (after sunrise and before dusk), the culprit is most likely the Asian tiger mosquito. Unlike other mosquitoes, it is active and feeds during the day (diurnal), with the females seeking blood meals from warm-blooded animals, especially people. Your breathing gives you away: Female mosquitos hunt by homing in on carbon dioxide, a byproduct of respiration in mammals.

Habitat characteristics

Mosquitoes live and reproduce near shallow, standing water. They breed in "containers"—including artificial ones like tires, bottles, and leaf-clogged gutters, or natural ones such as holes in rocks or trees. Mosquitoes need only ¼ inch of water to complete their life cycle.

Life Cycle

Male and female mosquitoes sip flower nectar for their own sustenance, but the mated female must obtain a blood meal for protein to nourish egg development. The female extracts blood from a mammal or bird using its elongated proboscis. She then deposits 40 to 150 eggs along the sides of a container, just above the surface of the water. The cycle of blood meals and egg-laying continues weekly throughout the adult's lifespan, which ranges from a few days to a few weeks. Eggs can overwinter in water or near water, hatching when the temperature warms. Larvae feed on debris in the water for five to 10 days, transforming into aquatic, non-feeding pupa for about two days. Winged adults emerge from the pupa and mate.

Asian tiger mosquitoes do not fly far from their breeding sites, but their range is appreciably expanded when humans inadvertently transport their eggs or larvae in water. The international trade in used tires fueled the mosquito's spread over wide-ranging areas, but eggs or larvae can travel in any container. The species moved across Florida from graveyard to graveyard in flower vases as well as tires and other containers. See http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/current.html#Mosquito.

Look-alikes and how to distinguish

Aedes albopictus resembles other species of mosquitoes, but its white stripes make it virtually unmistakable.

Why is this animal a problem?

  • Asian Tiger Mosquito biting photographer Mike DunnMosquitoes acquire diseases from a host animal when the female sucks the host’s blood. The mosquito transfers the disease to another animal during a later feeding. In the United States, the Asian tiger mosquito may spread diseases such as West Nile virus and encephalitis. The Centers for Disease Control keeps a close watch on this species because of its great potential as a disease vector in the United States. For information on all of the diseases potentially carried by the mosquito, see www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/arbor/albopic_new.htm.
  • Besides spreading disease, this mosquito inflicts pain on humans. Its bite is no worse than other mosquitoes, but the numbers of adults can be so high that it is difficult to work or play in infested areas.

Management approaches

The United States' Public Health Service Act of 1988 requires used tires shipped from countries that are home to the Asian tiger mosquito to be dry, clean, and fumigated. The public can prevent the spread of mosquitoes by eliminating breeding sites:
• Recycle or dispose of trash and unwanted items, especially old tires.
• Store containers indoors, cover them, or turn them upside down.
• Clean leaf-clogged gutters so they won't hold water.
• Change water weekly in outdoor containers like pet bowls, flower pots, or birdbaths.
For more information on control, see the North Carolina Division of Environmental Health Mosquito fact sheet [PDF].

Other resources
WEB

Exotic Species Curriculum for Agricultural Problem-solving Education (ESCAPE)
Information on basic ecology, identification, and the impact of exotic species; learning modules (including quizzes, case studies, examinations of ethics, and lesson plans)

National Geographic News
ABC News article: "Ferocious Tiger Mosquito Invades the United States"

United States Department of Agriculture and partners
Information on the impacts of invasive species and the federal government's response; selected species profiles; links to agencies and organizations dealing with invasive species issues

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