Cryptic Breeding: The Secret Life Of The Aedes Aegypti Mosquito

By Frank Calderon, Miami-Dade County Department of Solid Waste Management

 
What makes the Aedes aegypti mosquito peskier than other mosquito species (if that’s even possible)?

Aside from the fact that it can spread a number of diseases (Zika, dengue and yellow fever, to name a few), it loves to be around—and bite—people more than most other mosquito species, and it’s hard to eliminate.

In fact, it’s been called the “cockroach of mosquitoes” for those reasons.

One of the reasons the Aedes aegypti mosquito can be found around people and yet is difficult to get rid of is that it’s a cryptic breeder.  Meaning, it can breed in the least obvious, most unusual places around homes and businesses.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito likes to breed in small containers that fill with water, preferably out of the sun.  And it likes dark colors.  This makes old tires one of its favorite breeding spots.

It can also breed in flowerpots—including water-retaining saucers underneath flowerpots—bottles, cans, clogged gutters, rain barrels, birdbaths, even bottle caps.

Making Aedes aegypti even trickier is the fact that it can lay eggs in places where there’s no water at the moment, but will eventually fill with water.  Eggs laid outside of water can remain viable for as long as 12 months.  And the Aedes aegypti has an uncanny knack for finding containers that are dry today but filled with water tomorrow (or a few months from now).

As mentioned before, the Aedes aegypti can also breed in less obvious places, including inside homes.  Here are a few of the oddest places they’ve been found breeding:

  • This author found them breeding in a flower vase inside his house once. It was the perfect environment: dimly lit, stagnant water, no one bothering the mosquito larvae.  Needless to say, the water was dumped out of the vase (along with the wriggling larvae).
  • Scientists in Malaysia found them breeding in a toilet tank. The scientists discovered this by accident when one of them used a restroom in a residential area where they were conducting mosquito surveillance, and an adult mosquito appeared out of nowhere to bite.
  • A Miami-Dade resident recently told Miami-Dade mosquito control employees he found mosquitoes breeding under his Christmas tree one year! That sounds worse than getting a lump of coal in your stocking.
  • Construction barriers: Miami-Dade mosquito control inspectors found that those big orange and white barriers found around construction sites can fill up with water—and mosquito larvae.

As you can see, the Aedes aegypti mosquito can breed in just about any type of container that can hold water, including some odd places no one would ever think to look.  So the next time you check your yard for possible mosquito breeding sites—what, you mean you don’t? Well you should!—don’t take any container for granted.  Assume that just about any spot that can hold water can and will breed mosquitoes.

There’s a good chance you’ll be right.

Above content provided by Miami-Dade County.

 

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