FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – An aggressive species of mosquito that can spread several diseases — including West Nile and Zika — is moving into the state of Connecticut, according to a study from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.
The Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) is an invasive species that originated in East Asia and is undergoing a northward expansion in the United States, according to CAES.
Connecticut had previously been seen as near the northern boundary of the range for the Asian tiger mosquito. But this new study, which covered 1997 to 2016, found that they are becoming more abundant, particularly in urban and suburban locations along the state's southwestern shoreline.
Winter temperatures play a role in the expansion of the species, with mild temperatures allowing the Asian tiger mosquito to survive through the winter.
"This is the first documentation of Ae. Albopictus overwintering in New England,” said Dr. Philip Armstrong, lead author and Medical Entomologist at CAES. “Furthermore, our date demonstrates how mild winters affect the seasonal abundance and overwintering success of this mosquito.”
Two viruses — Cache Valley and West Nile — were isolated in the mosquitos, which officials say further indicate that it poses a disease threat to humans. The Asian tiger mosquitos are human biters than can also carry chikungunya and dengue.
“We would anticipate further expansion and build-up of this species with projected climate change,” said Dr. Theodore Andreadis, co-author and director of CAES. “Its aggressive biting behavior and ability to transmit a cadre of human disease causing viruses clearly warrant further study and close monitoring through our statewide surveillance program.”
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