Tiger Mosquitoes In NJ: Fierce Asian Pest Invades Tri-State Area, Vector For West Nile Virus [VIDEO]

By Philip Ross on June 25, 2013 11:42 AM EDT

tiger mosquito
Tiger mosquitoes in N.J., recognized by their distinct black and white stripes, are carriers of dangerous diseases like West Nile virus. (Photo: YouTube/Screenshot)

Tiger mosquitoes in New Jersey are here, and just in time to wreak havoc on outdoor summer soirees. The fierce Asian tiger mosquito, recognized by its distinct black and white striped legs and body, is native to the tropics and subtropics of Southeast Asia, but has spread to other parts of the world via international trade and travel.

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But the alien invader isn't here for a relaxing holiday. ABC 7 reports that the fierce Asian tiger mosquitoes in N.J. are "more aggressive than ever." The ferocious bloodsucker, unlike other mosquitoes that typically appear and bite around dusk, feasts any time of the day. It measures between 2 and 10 mm in length, with the males about 20 percent smaller than the females. Only the females require blood to nourish their eggs.

The insect has been around for years, but this year, the mosquito has begun to multiply rapidly. It can be found all over the tri-state area, but is especially prevalent in N.J.

According to AP, the tiger mosquito, known as Aedes albopictus, first popped up in New Jersey in 1995 in Monmouth County, a country on the state's east coast about 35 miles south of the tip of Manhattan. Since then, it has spread far north and is a major nuisance in Bergen and Passaic counties. Of all the 63 different species of mosquito in New Jersey, the tiger mosquito helms the vessel of extreme nuisances. They breed in remote woodland areas and have a preference for daytime feasting, as well as for human blood.

Abandoned kiddie pools, standing flower pot water, a clogged drain or even a bottle cap are all prime breeding ground for tiger mosquito larvae, called "wrigglers."

The tiger mosquitoes' gumption makes the pest especially dangerous given its reputation as a carrier of dangerous diseases.

One California health official told ABC that the Asian tiger mosquito is a "very efficient vector of dengue, yellow fever and chikungunya, and some of these nasty ones." Texas, Florida and Hawaii have all experienced dengue fever outbreaks because of a virus spread by the tiger mosquito, according to ABC.

The biggest concern, however, is West Nile virus. The Asian tiger mosquito could be "a more efficient disease vector, especially for West Nile virus," Eric Green, the mosquito control officer for Passaic County, told The Record. "It bites in daytime and could put more people at risk" of the disease.

West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne virus that causes illness and even death. Its symptoms include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and, in extreme cases, inflammation of the brain and spinal cord or even coma. According to the New York State Department of Health, since 2000, there have been 490 human cases and 37 deaths of West Nile virus statewide.

There is currently no vaccine to treat West Nile virus.

So how do you defeat the tiger mosquitoes in N.J.? The best way to get rid of the pest is to throw out any standing water, like bird baths.

Read more from iScience Times:

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