The Summer Season Has Not Yet Arrived, But Disease-Carrying Mosquitoes Are Already Abundant In New Orleans

Louisiana’s subtropical climate is conducive to mosquitoes, and although the summer season has not yet arrived, residents of New Orleans are already feeling overwhelmed by the abundance of mosquito species that are capable of transmitting disease to humans. In fact, city-wide pest surveillance detected an unusually high mosquito population in various areas of New Orleans last April. In response to this finding, city officials wasted no time carrying out area-wide insecticide applications throughout the entirety of Algiers and a few isolated areas nearby. The area-wide mosquito abatement operation targeted Culex quinquefasciatus, or the “southern house mosquito,” as the species is more commonly known.

According to a recent nationwide survey of pest management professionals, the southern house mosquito was the second most commonly controlled mosquito pest within American homes during 2016, after the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), which is also a disease-carrying species that is abundant in Louisiana. The southern house mosquito is capable of transmitting Saint Louis encephalitis, western equine encephalitis, and the West Nile virus, and they are active from dusk until dawn. Adult females of this species are able to deposit eggs in virtually any source of standing water, including bird baths, old tires, wastewater, and rainwater that collects in manmade objects in urban and suburban areas. Larvae emerge from hatched eggs 24 to 30 hours after they are deposited, and larvae develop into adults within a period of five to eight days, depending on climatic conditions.

Both male and female southern house mosquitoes feed on sugar from plants, but only females collect blood meals from humans and certain mammals and birds. Each night, females opportunistically collect blood meals from the first suitable hosts they find. Many southern house mosquitoes are already capable of transmitting disease to humans in Louisiana, as mosquitoes acquire disease pathogens from birds while nesting during the spring. The southern house mosquito is an invasive species in the US that lives in close association with humans due to their dependence of manmade water sources for reproduction. Keeping residential yards free of standing water will reduce breeding sites and will prevent large numbers of southern house mosquito females from becoming prevalent around homes. Since these mosquitoes readily enter homes, it is important to seal potential entry points on screens and on the exterior walls of homes. Standing water within homes should be minimized by keeping sinks free of water and dirty dishes, and house plants should not be over-watered.

Do you do your part to eliminate mosquito breeding sites on your property?

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