In Chino Hills, California, efforts are underway to fight back against a new, aggresive invader spotted in Southern California, and it’s a mosquito species that has yet to be seen.
“It’s a little scary,” said Deborah Sershion, who is worried about the newcomer to her Chino Hills neighborhood. “The one thing that I do know is that I’ve gotten more mosquito bites this year than I have in my entire life. So something’s going on.”
Known as the Aedes aegypti, the black insects with white stripes are not typical mosquitoes. They are an invasive species with the potential to transmit yellow fever, dengue, the West Nile virus, and even the dreaded Zika virus.
Areas with past outbreaks of chikungunya and dengue are considered at higher risk for Zika. These include U.S. territories like Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. Local outbreaks have also been reported in parts of Hawaii, Florida, and Texas.
“It is a day biting mosquito,” said Brian Reisinger of the West Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District. “It will aggressively follow somebody to try to get a blood meal.”
The agency has started to increase the surveillance of the mosquito after one of the insects was caught in a trap earlier this year.
Unlike most other species of mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti lay their eggs by gluing them to the sides of small containers which then wait for contact with water.
“It’s all these tiny sources — not the big dirty swimming pool, not the dairy lagoon we are worried about,” Reisinger said. “It’s all these tiny sources that collectively put a neighborhood at risk.”
ISCA Technologies, a Riverside based company, is helping to bring forth how vector control districts deal with the problem. Biologists are working on several low-impact and targeted pest control solutions.
“We’re getting the mosquitoes to do what we want — either attracting them to a toxic point source or attracting pregnant mosquitoes to lay (eggs) in a treated water source,” said Jesse Saroli, an ISCA biology manager. ISCA says the company’s product is being field tested and officials hope to have it on the market within 18 months.