Mosquitoes exist across the world, with the exception of Antarctica. More than 3,000 mosquito species have been identified in both the Arctic and subtropics. They are categorized into 39 different genera.
About 174 species can be found in North America and Mexico. Different types of mosquitoes have different feeding and breeding habits. The four most common types of mosquitoes in the United States are the house mosquito, the southern house mosquito, the Asian tiger mosquito and the yellow fever mosquito.
House mosquito (Culex)
Some of the most common types of mosquitoes in the United States are called house mosquitoes. Species of mosquitoes that belong to this group include Culex Pipiens and Culex restuans Theobald.
Cx. Pipiens is most common to the Northern part of the United States. Pale brown in color with white stripes, it is often found in polluted water that has been left standing. Storm drains, birdbaths, pet dishes and old tires are popular breeding sites for these types of mosquitoes. The female mosquito of this species can lay anywhere from 50 to 400 eggs at one time. These eggs typically take 10 to 14 days to hatch although they can take longer, depending on the weather. Culex restuans is a very similar species in looks and habits, but is more prevalent in the Eastern and Central parts of the United States.
Both of these mosquito types can transmit a variety of different viruses and parasites to humans.
Southern mosquito (Culex quinquefasciatus)
This species of mosquitoes, also sometimes referred to as Culex fatigans, is most common in tropic and sub-tropic regions. It shares many of the same physical and behavioral aspects of the house mosquito, but is found in Southern areas of the United States and is present throughout Florida. Also a nighttime feeder, this mosquito is the primary vector of the St. Louis encephalitis virus and can also transmit West Nile virus (WNV).
Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus)
This species of mosquitoes can be identified by the bright white or silver stripes on its abdomen, thorax and legs. Unlike other types of mosquitoes belonging to Culex, the female Asian tiger mosquito is a daytime feeder and can be an aggressive biter. Males do not bite.
Types of mosquitoes belonging to the genus Aedes have similar breeding habits. Females often lay eggs in clean, standing water. They are drawn to containers such as birdbaths or flowerpots. Eggs that have been flooded after a rainstorm can hatch in a short amount of time under the correct temperatures, making it easier for these mosquito types to spread. Species of mosquitoes belonging to Aedes tend to be weak flyers and often won’t travel more than one-half of a mile away from their original breeding sites.
The Asian tiger mosquito was first discovered in the United States in 1985. Since then, it has competed for space with the yellow fever mosquito, which was once the most prominent species of Aedes in the country. The Asian tiger is a vector of more than 30 viruses, but only a few are known to affect humans, according to University of Florida Entomology and Nematology Department. These diseases include equine encephalitis, Cache Valley virus, dengue, and St. Louis and LaCrosse encephalitis viruses. Despite this, different types of mosquitoes belonging to Aedes have proven more efficient than the Asian tiger at transmitting disease.
Yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti)
The yellow fever mosquito has been known to the United States for many centuries. It caused more U.S. troop casualties during the Spanish-American war than the war itself, as a result of transmitting the yellow fever.
Because both types of mosquitoes belong to the Aedes genus, this species of mosquitoes have similar feeding and breeding habits to the Asian tiger. However, the population of the yellow fever mosquito has declined in many areas following the arrival of the Asian tiger mosquito, although it is still prevalent in some regions.
The yellow fever mosquito is more commonly found in urban areas of Southern Florida, and in cities along the coasts of Texas and Louisiana. It can also be found in Southern parts of the United States and up the East Coast to New York.
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