The link between the Asian Tiger mosquito and West Nile Virus

Asian tiger on leaf

The Asian tiger mosquito is a known vector of West Nile virus, Dengue and Yellow Fever.

Along with being an aggressive day feeding mosquito, the Asian Tiger mosquito is also a known vector of West Nile Virus and is a vector of Dengue and Yellow fever as well. This mosquito, which made its appearance here in North America by hitching a ride within a shipment of tires bound for Texas from Asia in 1985, is definitely foe rather than friend. West Nile Virus is a potentially serious illness that  is primarily spread through infected mosquitoes. West Nile virus infection affects humans, horses and other domestic animals. The first case of West Nile in South Carolina was reported in 2002.

With West Nile cases, symptoms generally appear within 3-14 days after the onset of infection. Symptoms include fever, headache and body aches. Although in some cases people won’t have any symptoms at all. West Nile Virus can move into becoming West Nile Encephalitis in one out of 150 people infected with West Nile Virus. This is a dangerous, neuroinvasive disease that causes inflammation of the area that surrounds the brain as well as the spinal cord. Signs that West Nile Encephalitis is present include stiffness of the neck, severe headaches, confusion, tremors, seizures, paralysis, coma and in some cases death.

Asian Tiger Mosquito Columbia SC

Fortunately, South Carolina has been testing for West Nile since 1999 which includes detection in birds, mosquitoes, mammals and humans.  At this point  the only cure for West Nile is time. The medical professionals focus on relieving the patient of  the symptoms while their body tries to fight the illness. This means that the best measure against West Nile is prevention.

Since the Asian Tiger mosquito, or Aedes albopictus , as well as forty-three other mosquito species are known to transmit the West Nile virus, it is in your best interests to avoid mosquitoes. Avoidance begins with controlling and preventing mosquitoes within your property. Exercising mosquito safe practices such as avoiding overgrowth and keeping your lawn and shrubbery trimmed and cleaned out is one way to discourage mosquitoes that like to harbor in the cool, damp, shady surroundings of an unkempt yard. Examining your property and around your house frequently for any sign of standing water and keep these turned over. Throw away or tip over any object that can pool water. Keep your gutters clean. Change the water in your bird bath, animal watering containers, and horse troughs frequently to avoid them becoming a nursery for new mosquitoes to lay their eggs. Having a licensed mosquito control professional treat your yard and property to kill and prevent mosquitoes as well.

Mosquito Squad of Columbia fights the bite with our safe and effective barrier spray programs designed to take the worry out of mosquito control and prevention. Our spray is applied on a regular schedule throughout the season to keep the mosquitoes and the dangers they pose to us, our family and our pets away all season long too. Contact us to learn more about our mosquito control programs and all of our other pest control programs as well. We also treat for fire ants, fleas, ticks, spiders and flies. Call us today to get started on your season long protection • (803) 345 – 7575 • email: columbia@mosquitosquad.com

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Mosquito Squad of Columbia introduces you to the heavyweight of biting mosquitoes; the Gallinipper

dread-versions3Sunny Florida remains a go to vacation destination for many Columbia, SC residents. The white beaches, the azure blue water and the local flavor within Florida’s cities and towns has always made it a popular place to leave all your cares behind. Floridians and those drawn to Florida already have a long list of the reasons they love the sunshine state. This summer there will be one notable addition to the list of things they aren’t so fond of  called a Gallinipper.

What is a Gallinipper?

The proper name for a Gallinipper is a Psorophora ciliata. The term “gallinipper” isn’t recognized by most entomologists, but over the past century, the word, and the Gallinipper itself, entered popular legend through Southern folktales, minstrel shows and blues songs which spoke of a giant mosquito with a nasty bite according to a report from The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida. This mammoth mosquito has a bite so painful it has become the stuff of legends with references of the mosquito going all the way back to 1897. It is also referred to as a monster mosquito, and a giant mosquito which are the best ways to describe this skeeter. A Gallinipper is roughly 20 times the size of a regular mosquito with an adult size comparable with that of a quarter! Physical characteristics of the Gallinipper include hairy back legs with zebra like patterns and yellow scales on the thorax of the insect.

This mosquito is feared because not only because of its enormous size but its aggressive feeding habits. Gallinippers feed day and night unlike the dusk to dawn biting mosquitoes we are accustomed to dealing with. Their bodies are strong enough to bite through clothing, and when you get bit by one of these giants it really hurts! Floridians who live in more rural, grassy areas that are prone to flooding are more likely to come in contact with  these mosquitoes than city dwellers which is good news for tourism.

Gallinipper mosquito

Meet the Gallinipper. The largest known biting mosquito of the U.S.

Psorophora ciliata is the largest known biting mosquitoes in the U.S. Even though these mosquitoes are normally seen in Florida, this year’s population prediction could make them more menacing than usual simply because of their sheer size and expected numbers. Gallinippers are floodwater mosquitoes which lay their eggs in low-lying areas with damp soil and grassy overgrowth. Tropical storms in Florida caused a record number of these mosquitoes last summer, whose eggs to lay in wait until this season. If these areas flood following a dry period, the eggs will hatch and produce very large numbers of adult mosquitoes. These mosquitoes are known to be so veracious even in their larval stage they will eat tadpoles, small aquatic prey and have even been reported to exhibit cannibalistic behavior and eat larvae of their own kind! This mosquito is not reported to carry any diseases that can be passed onto us or our pets. The only positive attribute of the Gallinipper is the fact they also feed on the larvae of other mosquitoes including the Asian tiger mosquito and other mosquitoes that are known vectors of mosquito-borne illness and disease. These mosquitoes prove the old adage that bigger is better wrong, but the silver lining is that an explosive Gallinipper population will help reduce the numbers of mosquitoes that could potentially make Floridians very sick.no-mosquito

Thankfully, here in Columbia, SC we don’t have to worry about coming into contact with this big, mean mosquito. Here on the home front we have the first line of defense in controlling and preventing mosquitoes covered. Mosquito Squad of Columbia can control and prevent mosquitoes on your property for the entire season with our safe and effective barrier spray program. It is safe, easy and it works!  Contact Mosquito Squad of Columbia today for a free quote • (803) 345 – 7575 • email:Columbia@MosquitoSquad.com

A mild winter means more bugs this spring and summer in the South

Spring 004

The early onset of spring brings blooms and pests.

All across the country this year we have seen some of the mildest and warmest winters on record.  South Carolina in general is a warm state that has experienced mild winters on a regular basis throughout our state’s history. On average we have had 13.7 days of temperatures above 70 degrees during the winter months over the past 124 years. This year however, we had 15 days of 70+ degree temperatures from 12/01 to 2/29, according to The Southeast Regional Climate Center.  This type of winter sets a precedent in our history The average median for Columbia to get temperature readings of 20 degrees and below is 23.4 days. This winter Columbia only had 11.  The last winter on record for Columbia, S.C. that had 11 or fewer days in the 20’s was in 1974. With the premature arrival of warmer weather, factored in with an all-around milder than mild Winter, South Carolina needs to get prepared for the onslaught of hungry insects since the populations will be higher due to the lack of freezing conditions over the winter.

dread and kids in flowers

Mosquito Squad of Columbia can keep you and your family happy and healthy this season.

As this mild South Carolina winter shifts into early spring, many insects are ending their hibernation early.  You may already see a problem arising in your neighborhood with fire ants due to the early end to hibernation. Many insects that are in an egg or larval state wait for the weather to warm to emerge. This means that flies and mosquitoes should be showing up earlier than usual this spring due to warmer temperatures and warmer water temperatures as well.

With a larger and earlier population of insects, we also run a greater risk of contracting insect-borne illness. A lengthier insect season is to blame. This includes mosquito-borne illness, tick-borne illness and flea-borne illness. Ourselves, our families and our pets are more at risk with a longer warm season.

You may ask what you can do to prevent these “early risers” from ruining the beauty and fun of enjoying the outdoors this season. There are many things that you can do to discourage falling prey to the bugs. When it comes to mosquitoes, keeping your property free of standing water that could serve as a breeding ground is essential. Also, as with all insects, keeping your property free of debris and mowed will serve as a deterrent. Having your property treated by a licensed professional is crucial to eradicating a problem before it becomes out of control. Having your yard treated for insects will also keep your yard free of the pests for the season and give you a chance to enjoy the warm evening breezes and the sun on your face during this glorious time.

The good news is that Mosquito Squad of Columbia can treat your property to protect against mosquitoes, fire ants, fleas, ticks, spiders and flies. Our formulas are affordable, safe and highly effective. We also take special precautions to ensure beneficial insects and pollinators such as honeybees are not harmed in any manner.

Remember that a season with no bites, means no worries. Contact us today to learn more.

Call us today for a free quote • (803) 345 – 7575 • email: columbia@mosquitosquad.com

What do heartworms have to do with mosquitoes?

Sophie_kayaking_on_the_lake

Keep your pampered pooch happy and healthy with mosquito and flea control from Mosquito Squad of Columbia. Let the good times roll!

Among all the diseases that can strike our beloved pets, heartworms are one of the most fatal and hardest to treat.  Dogs, cats, ferrets and other mammals are susceptible to heartworm disease.  Heartworms are caused by the bite of an infected mosquito and there is no way to tell which mosquitoes are infected. The bottom line is if you have a pet and you have mosquitoes, then if not treated your pets will almost surely get heartworms. It’s just that simple.

Even though heartworms are treatable, the treatment can be really rough on your pet and is not 100% guaranteed to eradicate the heartworms. In some cases the treatment can prove to as fatal as the disease itself. Thankfully, heartworms can be prevented, through education, keeping your pet on a regular routine of heartworm preventative medication and by using mosquito prevention practices such as having your property treated by a licensed professional to keep mosquitoes out of the areas where your pets frequent.

You many assume that having your beloved pets on heartworm preventative is enough to dismiss the threat of heartworm disease in your pet, but it is not. Though highly effective, as with any medication, the preventative is not 100% effective.  A good friend of mine had this happen to my beloved childhood dog, a black Lab named Lola. Even though she kept up with her heartworm pills each month, Lola still contracted heartworm disease. I am an advocate in educating pet owners on total prevention at the source to greatly reduce the risk of another beloved pet contracting heartworm disease.

heartworm-life-cycle in dogs

This simple diagram shows the life cycle of the heartworm in a dog.

In the same way that it is important to regularly inspect your property to keep you and your family safe from pesky mosquitoes and the diseases they carry, it is also important to check the areas your pet frequents to ensure they are free of standing water or containers that can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Any debris, brush or trash should be cleaned up. In addition, any containers or reservoirs for standing water. Tip it over, turn it over or throw it away. Have your property treated by a licensed professional to kill and prevent mosquitoes. These easy to follow steps, combined with regular visits to your veterinarian and keeping your pet on year-round  heartworm preventative is the key to keeping your pet heartworm free.

Other Worrisome Worms

Heartworms are not the only worms that can plague your pet.  Dogs, cats and even horses can develop other parasites and worms from more than the mosquito. Fleas are a major cause of concern to pet owners and non-pet owners alike. Along with causing Anemia, Flea Allergy Dermatitis and a myriad of other skin conditions in your pet, fleas are also responsible for Tapeworms.

Heartworms

The ugly truth : a dogs heart infected with heartworms.

Tapeworms are caused by fleas when the tapeworm uses the flea as an intermediate host in its own life cycle. Eggs are deposited by the adult tapeworm within the environment and are then consumed by the flea larvae. If your pet then ingests an adult flea that has consumed tapeworm eggs when in the larval stage, the tapeworms are passed on to your pet. Dogs, cats, equine and other pets ingest the tapeworm ridden fleas by biting at skin where the flea is biting. Believe it or not, people too can become infected with tapeworms if they accidentally ingest an infected flea. Tapeworms are treated through de-worming medications, but until you eradicate the flea problem itself, the vicious cycle can replay over and over again within your pets flea infested environment like a bad movie. Killing and preventing fleas is the key to keeping these nasty pests out of the picture for good.

Prevention of fleas is easy. There is a wide array of topical and pills on the market for flea prevention on your pet. These take care of the problem on your pet, however the pets living quarters will also have to be treated properly and this includes the yard or outside areas that your pet frequents. Most fleas are picked up within the yard  from wild animals or neighbors pets and it is crucial to keep your property flea free to prevent re-infestation. Having your property treated by a licensed professional is the best defense against fleas.

Sophie dog

Our pets are members of our family too, and deserve protection from mosquitoes, fleas and ticks.

Mosquito Squad of Columbia specializes in flea control and prevention as well as mosquito control and prevention on your property. Our safe and effective sprays are safe for you, your family and your pets. Our service is worry-free and will help you keep your pets safe from mosquitoes and fleas that can wreak havoc on their health, and yours. Contact us today to get on the schedule for the mosquito season, or all year-long.

Call us today for a free quote • (803) 345 – 7575 • email: columbia@mosquitosquad.com

Areas we cover:

Batesburg, Blythewood, Camden, Cayce, Chapin, Columbia, Congaree, Dutch Fork, Eastover, Elgin, Elloree, Five Points, Forest Acres, Forest Lake, Fort Jackson, Gadsden, Gaston, Gilbert, Harbison, Hopkins, Irmo, Kathwood, Lake Carolina, Lake Murray, Leesburg, Leesville, Lexington, Lugoff, Macedon, Olympia, Orangeburg, Pelion, Pineridge, Pontiac, Red Bank, Ridgeway, South Congaree, Springdale, St Matthews, Swansea, Wateree, West Columbia, Westover Acres, Winnsboro

Mosquito Squad of Columbia takes the tiger (mosquito) by the tail

Asian tiger on leaf

The Asian tiger mosquito displays similar markings to its namesake, the tiger.

The Asian Tiger mosquito ( Aedes albopictus), also known as the  forest day mosquito, made its debut into North America in 1985 by hitching a ride in a shipment of used tires from Asia bound for the port of Houston, TX. Since that fateful day the Asian tiger mosquito has been moving its way across the United States rapidly and can now be found as far up our East coast as Maine.

Named for its similarities in coloration to its namesake, the Asian Tiger mosquito has bold black and white stripes on its legs as well as its body. The similarities to the tiger don’t stop there. This mosquito is said to also be very aggressive at feeding time as well. What makes the Asian Tiger so unique is the way in which it feeds. There are over 3,500 species of named mosquitoes throughout the world, most of these species typically like to feed from dusk until dawn. The Asian tiger mosquito however, is what is called a “day feeder”, meaning that it will feed anytime throughout the day with little regard for the presence of humidity or heat. This species is well-acclimated to tropical and sub-tropical regions and is steadily gaining resistance to some of the cooler climates found here in North America. As this invasive species moves into more regions of the U.S., it is continuously evolving to accommodate its ever-changing environment. Its feeding is more aggressive and many cite that the Tiger’s bite is more painful.

Asian-MosquitoOne of the reasons behind the Asian Tiger’s aggressive feeding habits quite possibly lies in its persistence. All female mosquitoes must ingest blood for proper development of their eggs.  This  particular mosquito will return to feed off of its victim to get it’s fill of blood even once it is swatted away. The Asian also feeds off a variety of mammals which leads to cross pathogens that can contribute to the transference of certain mosquito-borne diseases and illnesses. The Asian Tiger mosquito is a known vector of  West Nile, Dengue Fever, Yellow Fever, Encephalitis and Heartworms in pets – all of which have been reported in the Midlands of South Carolina.

This mosquito, along with being one of the most bloodthirsty of its class, is also known to be a master at laying its eggs in some of the smallest crevices in miniscule amounts of water including gutters, holes and crevices in trees, dense foliage and brush that may hold moisture and even in our trash and litter. A single soda bottle cap can become a nursery to hundreds of mosquito larvae. Anything that can hold or pool water within your landscape and around your home can serve as a place for a female mosquito to lay her eggs. It is of the utmost importance to inspect your surroundings on a regular basis and turn over, tip over or throw out anything that can aid in the mosquitoes reproductive process. Mosquito Squad calls this the five T’s of mosquito prevention.

  • Tip
  • Toss
  • Turn
  • Remove Tarps and tires
  • Treat

Following this formula will  prevent mosquitoes from biting you and your family and pets, and to reduce the risk of contracting a mosquito-borne illness or disease.

Asian Tiger Mosquito

Mosquito Squad of Columbia is waging war on mosquitoes and fighting the bite!

Mosquito Squad of Columbia understands the concerns that arise when you or someone you love gets even one unnecessary mosquito bite this season. The magic part of our treatment is that you don’t have to experience even the first bite by using our system. Our service entails spraying your property on regularly scheduled intervals for optimum mosquito control. Our barrier sprays are safe, effective and worry free. Once you have signed up with us, you won’t have to worry about scheduling or keeping track of when it is time to call us because our service is automatic. You may even forget about mosquitoes altogether without the hassle of having to spray yourself and your family down with dangerous topicals before each trip into your yard. Our philosophy is to treat your yard, instead of yourself.

To learn more about fighting the bite this season, including the dreaded Asian Tiger mosquito, contact Mosquito Squad of Columbia and enjoy your time outdoors for all the right reasons. Call us today to sign up• (803) 345 – 7575 • email: columbia@mosquitosquad.com

Help Ward Off Mosquitoes while Gardening

If you’re an avid gardener like I am, you may be planning to get outdoors this weekend to do some late winter clean-up up in your yard.  With weather predictions of sunshine and temperatures in the 60s, I’ve got cabin fever!  As we all know, it’s been a particularly cold (and snowy) winter here in the Midlands.

I plan to use this out-of-doors opportunity to eliminate mosquito breeding sites before those nasty insects hatch.  I know you may be thinking “why bother, it’s too soon to be concerned about mosquitoes”.  But I was actually bitten on January 28 of this year, at an outdoor function that was held during the brief two-day warm-up we experienced!  So the mosquitoes are literally waiting to emerge and bite you, your kids and your pets.

It’s simple to reduce mosquito breeding sites in your yard:  just remember these simple steps.

Tip – tip any vessel that holds unintended standing water outside your home – pet water bowls, planter trays, children’s toys.

Toss – toss any items in your yard that could collect water that can be discarded:  old toys, unused birdbaths, tires.  An item as small as a flipped over soda pop cap can become a breeding ground for thousands of mosquito larvae.

Turn Over – turn over any potentially water-holding items or containers so that liquid can’t collect in them, until the time they may once again be needed.  Again, think bowls, planters, birdbaths.

Tarps Eliminated – tarps create ideal mosquito breeding grounds.  If at all possible, eliminate all outside tarps.   Not only do they hold small pools of water which are ideal for egg-laying, but the shade they create is a preferred spot for adults to harbor during the heat of the day, waiting to come out and bite when they detect warm bodies nearby.

Treat Accordingly – this is where the experts at Mosquito Squad come in.  Our trained applicators will take care of Tip, Toss, Turn Over, and eliminate Tarps for you, and we also use the safest, most effective Treatments available to protect your family and pets from biting insects and the diseases they carry.

In upcoming blogs, we’ll let you know about gardening-related events we’ll be attending.  Hope to meet you then.  Meantime, enjoy the warmth and sunshine!

Irmo SC Family’s Health Affected by Mosquitoes and Ticks

Danielle Miller of Irmo, SC, knows all-too-well the risks of disease from mosquito and tick infestations.  Danielle’s three children and two dogs suffer daily from the mosquitoes and ticks that infest her wooded backyard, her daughter has been hospitalized from mosquito bite complications, and a family friend suffers the chronic effects of tick-borne lyme disease.

Since moving to their new home near Harbison Boulevard in Irmo, Danielle’s shih-tzu dog regularly comes into their home with ticks, which are painful and disgusting to remove.  Danielle’s greater concern is that her children may contract lyme disease from the ticks, especially since a friend’s health deteriorated after he contracted lyme disease from a tick bite.  “Lyme disease is real, and I want to protect my children from this illness”, says Danielle.  She said that her friend suffers from all the symptoms for which lyme disease is known, including flu-like symptoms, chronic joint pain, and “it even affected him mentally” Danielle noted.

Additionally, Danielle’s three-year old daughter, Peyton, contracted MRSA, a Staphylococcus infection that flared up from scratching a mosquito bite.  “Peyton ended up in the hospital, and they had to cut open a hole in her leg and keep the wound open in order to repeatedly treat the infection.  This (complication from mosquito bites) can lead to amputations and even death,” Danielle stated, but “we were lucky we caught it in time.”

Danielle will be taking advantage of a free barrier spray applied to her yard that controls up to 90% of mosquitoes, ticks and fleas, offered to new customers by Mosquito Squad of Columbia.  Due to the extensive pest infestation in her around her home, Mosquito Squad recommends installing Tick Tubes, which control juvenile ticks, killing them before they mature and begin biting humans and dogs.

For information about Mosquito Squad of Columbia’s free initial barrier spray program, call (803) 345-7575 or email columbia@mosquitosquad.com.