Asian tiger mosquitoes, so named for the distinctive white stripes on their black bodies, are expected to invade the country this summer, which is worrisome to many who will be spending time outdoors.
The breed isn’t new to the U.S.–having come over in the ’80s in a shipment of tires which carried shallow pools of standing water–but they’re gaining in number and experts say they are particularly resistant to drought and are aggressive with their bites…another reason for the menacing name.
“Part of the reason it is called ‘tiger’ is also because it is very aggressive,” Dina Fonseca, associate professor of entomology at Rutgers University, told the Wall Street Journal. “You can try and swat it all you want, but once it’s on you, it doesn’t let go.”
Mosquitoes are an unwelcome sight in any case, but the Asian tiger is well-known for carrying diseases like West Nile fever, dengue fever, yellow fever and two types of encephalitis. An invasion in 1999 that cut a swath from Baltimore to Virginia Beach led to scientists actually trying to breed a cannibal mosquito to try and kill off some of the Asian tigers, but it didn’t work.
Over half the country can expect to find the aggressive breed in their neighborhoods this year, and because they are so quick, it’s hard to kill them the same way you’d kill a normal mosquito. Experts say the most you can do is preventative in nature: don’t allow standing water to sit in the yard in any form, change birdbath water once a week, and keep ornamental pools stocked with minnows.