San Diego

New Species of Mosquitoes Descend on San Diego

Local scientists warn San Diegans should get out their mosquito repellent.

Phyllis Delamater was sitting outside enjoying the sun on an August afternoon when she noticed many more mosquitoes out and about.

“One night I got about 11 bites,” Delamater said.

Scientists say she's not alone.

A few new breeds of mosquitoes have been turning up around San Diego County according to Chris Conlan, Supervising Vector Ecologist for the County.

“The reason we're concerned about these new invasive species is that they have the capability to transmit things like Zika or dengue virus. That's the kind of stuff you normally would associate with a tropical trip,” Conlan said.

These new mosquitoes are smaller than the native mosquitoes.

The Aedes aegypti, also known as the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes notoscriptus or the Australian Backyard Mosquito, and Aedes albopictus also known as the Asian tiger mosquito, although very few, have been detected in the County of San Diego.

The yellow fever mosquito tends to bite below the knees, so they are commonly called "ankle biters." All three invasive Aedes mosquitoes bite aggressively.

These mosquitoes are not native to California and can transmit viruses that cause Zika, dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.

But there have been no recent cases of these viruses being transmitted locally in California, according to the California Office of Public Health.

“What makes these kind of unique is they're active all day long even in broad daylight, if it’s not too hot. They’re very good at breeding in tiny containers found commonly throughout people's backyards,” says Conlan.

Conlan says the key to reducing the number of mosquitoes is to get rid of any standing water in your yard. He added that even the smallest amount can create a breeding ground.

County Environmental Health also has mosquito-eating fish available for free and continues to spray areas, where appropriate, to reduce the mosquito population.

While these new pests are appearing in greater numbers this summer, Conlan said West Nile virus, which can be contracted through the bite of native mosquitoes, remains a health concern.

In addition to removing standing water, experts suggest preventing mosquito bites by wearing mosquito repellent when you are outside.

The Center for Disease Control has a list of approved repellents, some with and without DEET.

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