Two mosquito-borne illnesses are hitting close to home in Riverside and Relands, CA. The first 2017 case of human West Nile virus in Los Angeles County was identified in the San Gabriel Valley area in June. A few months earlier, in San Diego County, the first baby born with defects caused by the Zika virus was identified.
Homeowners who are concerned about protecting themselves from either of these serious diseases should understand the five facts that follow.
Zika Is Not Transmitted in California Yet
The baby above who was born with Zika virus contracted the disease from the mother, who was exposed to the disease while pregnant and traveling abroad. So far, there have been no reports of Zika being locally transmitted by mosquitoes in California.
The two types of mosquitoes that spread Zika virus are present in California, however. These insects aren't native to the state but have been spotted here.
It may be only a matter of time until there are California-based Zika cases, but the probability remains relatively low. In order for a mosquito to transmit the disease to you, it must first bite a person who is infected with Zika and then bite you. Mosquitoes can't transmit the human disease on their own, since they carry Zika from person to person.
Four Types of Mosquitoes Can Make You Sick
West Nile Virus and Zika are spread by mosquitoes, which have increased in Southern California due to abundant winter rains. The kinds of mosquitoes, listed by disease, include the following.
- Zika Virus
- Yellow-fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti )—has banded legs, a violin-shaped thorax marking, and a deep brown color
- Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus )—has banded legs, a white stripe on center of the back, and a deep black color
- West Nile Virus
- House mosquito (Culex pipiens )—has a banded abdomen with gold and pale scales, brownish legs, and an overall brownish-gold color
- Encephalitis mosquito (Culex tarsalis )—has a gold and pale abdomen, visible wing veining, brown legs banded with white, and a mottled brownish-gold color
- The house mosquitoes may winter in basements, garages, culverts, and sheds before emerging in spring. The invasive Aedes mosquitoes can travel on vehicles or in goods and personal belongings.
- Aedes Mosquitoes Breed Inside and Out
Most mosquitoes that are native to our region breed in stagnant water found outdoors. They may lay eggs in culverts, rain barrels, water bottles, or abandoned pools.
However, the highly invasive Aedes mosquitoes are able to breed in only a bottle cap's worth of water. They breed inside the home as well as outdoors and may find a wonderful breeding spot under a sink or in a cup of water left in the garage.
Mosquitoes Bite During the Day Too
There are many species of biting mosquitoes in the U.S., and some emerge only at dusk to start feeding on human and animal blood. For example, house mosquitoes typically bite during the evening and early night hours.
Although all mosquitoes try to avoid strong daytime sunlight, Asian tiger mosquitoes love to bite in the morning and late afternoon. Remember, mosquitoes that enter your home aren't bothered by sunlight either. Instead of retreating to cool, moist, shaded locations during the hottest hours of the day, they can fly around in your climate-controlled space and bite all day long.
Homeowners Can Help Fight Zika and West Nile
Homeowners should be vigilant when it comes to standing water around and inside their structures. Completely empty all bird baths, rain barrels, and animal troughs once a week. Add only fresh water when refilling.
Keep screens on doors and windows maintained. Wear mosquito repellent outside, and refresh the repellent as directed after exercising or sweating.
Check around your home every day to be certain there are no places where water is collecting and not draining. If you have an unused pool, have it cleaned and treated. Ask your local officials whether or not they're offering mosquitofish to pool, pond, and lake owners, especially if you live in a mosquito-plagued area. The mosquitofish ( Gambusia affinis ) is very effective at eating mosquito larvae.
Contact one of our pest control experts to have your property inspected and treated for a variety of insect pests, including mosquitoes. We're happy to offer eco-friendly and traditional pest control methods to get rid of bugs.