What You Need to Know about Zika-carrying Mosquitoes
Aedes aegypti, the species of mosquito that can carry the Zika virus, is not your typical backyard pest.
Unlike many of the 46 other types of mosquitoes living in Hillsborough County, it has an uncanny ability to adapt to our neighborhoods, along with a voracious appetite for its main prey: us.
Among the bloodsuckers' evil tendencies, they:
- Would love to move into your home. Experts say they are more domesticated than dogs and cats.
- Hunt during the day, unlike other mosquitoes that prefer nighttime. They wake up with humans and go to bed with them.
- Prefer to sink their teeth into humans rather than other mammals or birds.
- Lay eggs and develop in just about any container, and they do not fly far from their homes.
- Like to move from person to person, taking a bit of blood at each stop, and spreading disease along the way.
Like all mosquitoes only the female Aedes aegypti bites humans. The blood meals are part of the egg-laying process.
- SEE PHOTOS of the Mosquito Code Training
Because of Aedes aegypti's unique traits, Hillsborough County Mosquito Control leaders see code enforcement officers as powerful allies in the battle against Zika.
Code enforcers routinely visit homes and businesses with unkempt yards. While Mosquito Control sprays insecticides over large areas, code officials speak with people about water accumulating in old tires, flower pots, clogged rain gutters, and bromeliads - places favored by the species.
The Zika-carrying insects can breed in containers of water as small as a bottle cap.
Mosquito Control sometimes receives complaints from people who say mosquitoes are a problem in their neighborhood, and request insecticide spraying of a nearby woods or swampy area. When authorities arrive they discover the real culprit: containers teeming with mosquito larvae and eggs.
Mosquito Control and code officers from Hillsborough County, Tampa, Temple Terrace, and Plant City met recently to review the mosquitoes' characteristics and talk strategy. The code enforcers, with permission, will tip over water containers and encourage people to spread word about the danger of strewn items such as an old tire, which Mosquito Control officials depict as a "six-star hotel" for Aedes Aegypti.
Learn how to protect yourself and your family from this mosquito that otherwise will make itself at home - in your home.