Asian Tiger Mosquito
How did it get here?
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 top
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
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
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
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
Why is this animal a problem?
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,
- 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.
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
• 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
• 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
Species Curriculum for Agricultural Problem-solving Education
Information on basic ecology, identification, and the
impact of exotic species; learning modules (including
quizzes, case studies, examinations of ethics, and lesson
ABC News article: "Ferocious Tiger Mosquito Invades
the United States"
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