The Region of Murcia is intensifying its campaign against the proliferation of Tiger Mosquitos which are more aggressive than their “Common mosquito” cousins and have been identified as being responsible for transmitting zika, dengue and chikungunya fevers, the Tiger mosquito bite is more painful than the Common variety and the effects can linger for up to 2 weeks or even more, although the regional municipalities including Mazarrón Council have been treating and spraying public roads and areas, the Regional Director General for Public Health, José Carlos Vicente, announced that research and sampling by the entomology department has established that 80% of Tiger mosquito breeding grounds are situated on private property so home and landowners need to be vigilant and take measures to reduce or eradicate potential breeding sites by eliminating even small accumulations on water.
About Tiger Mosquitos
The Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) took up residence in the Murcia region around 2010 and is a small black and white mosquito, about 6 mm long. The name “tiger mosquito” comes from its white and black colour pattern, it has a white stripe running down the centre of its head and back with white bands on the legs.
These mosquitoes lay their eggs in water-filled natural and artificial containers like water deposits, ponds, untreated/abandoned swimming pools, garden pots, buckets, even old tyres, they do not lay their eggs in ditches or marshes. The Asian tiger mosquito usually does not fly more than about 1 km from its breeding site.
Life Cycle and Habits
The wormlike mosquito larvae swim with a wriggling motion, about 10 days after hatching, the larvae are about 6 mm long and completely grown they then change into comma-shaped pupae, the pupa stage completes their development into adult mosquitoes. When fully developed, an adult mosquito will emerge from each pupa at the water surface, adult mosquitoes emerge from pupae in as little as 10 to 14 days after the eggs hatch during the summer, after emerging from the pupa an adult tiger mosquito’s life span is around 3 weeks.
Asian tiger mosquitoes spend the winter in the egg stage, hatching into larvae when the eggs are covered with water in the spring and summer, the larvae feed on small bits of debris and bacteria in the water.
Male mosquitoes feed on plant juices and do not bite, female mosquitoes seek blood to help their eggs develop, unlike the Common mosquito, the Asian tiger also feeds during daylight hours, as well as at night. As with other mosquitoes, Asian tiger mosquitoes are attracted to dark clothing, perspiration, carbon dioxide and certain other odours. The mosquito will bite cats, dogs, cattle and other animals as well as people. About four or five days after feeding on blood, the female mosquito lays her eggs on or just above the surface of the water, once submerged in water, the larvae hatch.
Prevention and Control
You can and should try to reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes:
Minimize time spent outdoors between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
Be sure door and window screens fit tightly and are in good repair.
Wear shoes, socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors for long periods of time and when mosquitoes are most active, clothing should be light coloured and made of tightly woven materials to keep mosquitoes away from the skin.
When it is necessary to be outdoors, apply insect repellent as indicated on the product’s label, apply to clothes when possible and sparingly to exposed skin if the label permits, consult a physician before using repellents on young children.
Indoor “Plug in” devices using liquid or tablets are widely available.
Spraying your garden with an insecticidal fog or mist is effective only for a short time, mosquitoes will return when the spray dissipates.
Mazarrón Council have employed a Mosquito Cannon (space spraying from specially equipped vehicles) this provides little control in private properties and this method is generally only effective when atmospheric conditions permit, you can however greatly reduce the number of tiger mosquitoes in your area by getting rid of breeding places:-
Remove any water-filled containers like food containers, drums, pots and buckets from your garden and terraces.
Keep mosquitoes from breeding in bird baths, pet water dishes and paddling pools by emptying, rinsing and replenishing them at least once a week.
Roof gutters should be kept clean of fallen leaves and other debris so that water does not collect in them.
Homeowners and residents should work together to eliminate breeding sites like abandoned cars, building materials, drums and other junk in vacant properties.
Report abandoned or untreated swimming pools, discarded tyres or other accumulations of water-holding junk to Mazarrón Council by calling in at the Town Hall and filling in a Solicitud genérica, Modelo 001 form or online using the Linea Verde link below, other infestations rats (ratas) cockroaches (cucurachas) etc can also be reported online via Linea Verde
These measures will also help control other mosquitoes.