COLOR: The abdomen of the yellow fever mosquito is dark brown or black, and the top of the thorax has white scales that form a shape resembling a violin or a lyre. The insect’s back legs are covered with white bands forming stripes.
BEHAVIOR: The yellow fever mosquito originated in Africa and made its way to the Western Hemisphere on ships used for exploration and trade. It has been present in the United States for centuries. These mosquitoes are the most common vector of mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever, Zika and chikungunya. However, these are diseases that are rarely found in the U.S.
Aedes aegypti commonly feed during the day, including the morning and the hours just before dusk. Only female mosquitoes bite humans, and they use the proteins in blood to produce eggs. Male and female mosquitoes feed on nectar.
These mosquitoes breed in standing water and live in containers. Common breeding grounds include flowerpots, spare tires, untreated swimming pools and drainage ditches. They undergo a complete metamorphosis with four stages: egg, larvae, pupa and adult. Females can produce up to 200 eggs per batch, and adult yellow fever mosquitoes typically live anywhere from two weeks to a month.
Yellow fever mosquitoes live in tropical and sub-tropical regions around the globe. In the summer, they can be found in more temperate regions. The insect’s range extends across 23 states in the United States, including the Southeast, as far north as New York and as far west as Indiana and Kentucky. It is particularly common in urban areas of Florida, Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.
The yellow fever mosquito is a resilient insect, which can make it difficult to control. Its eggs can withstand drying and successfully hatch afterwards. Because of this, populations are able to return to normal levels fairly easily following a disturbance.
Tips for Control
Efforts to control yellow fever mosquitoes date back to the 1900s when South American officials used insecticides to stem outbreaks of the disease. The most effective measure for controlling mosquitoes around your home is helping prevent them from breeding. Yellow fever mosquitoes breed in standing water found in containers. Help control populations in your yard by:
- Emptying and refilling birdbaths weekly
- Drilling holes in the bottom of tire swings to prevent water from accumulating
- Avoid using barrels or other containers to collect rainwater, unless they are emptied frequently
- Emptying kiddie pools regularly
- Keeping your gutters clean to keep debris and rainwater from collecting
- Filling holes in trees – area nurseries can recommend safe materials to use
- Using “bug lights” – special light bulbs that are less attractive to insects
You can also help reduce your risk of being bitten by wearing pants and long sleeves when outdoors, using mosquito repellents recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and trying to avoid (when possible) being outside during the morning hours or right before dusk, when some mosquitoes are most active.
Of course, if problems persist, you should consider professional treatment from a mosquito control service like Terminix®.