Experts warn Michiganders to be vigilant as disease-spreading Asian tiger mosquito spreads across America

The Asian tiger mosquito, seen here, can potentially carry a variety of diseases and has been identified in Michigan in the past few years. Photo courtesy Wiki-Commons.

Posted by The Huron Hub | May 22, 2023

• The mosquito can transmit a number of diseases, including the dengue fever, chikungunya, and Zika virus
• Michiganders are encouraged to use repellent if they travel interstate
• Mosquito has been identified in Michigan in years past

Michiganders are being warned to be highly vigilant as the Asian tiger mosquito, a small, dark mosquito with distinctive white stripes on its legs and body, spreads across the country at an alarming pace.

Previously identified in Michigan in 2017, 2018, and 2020, the Asian tiger mosquito can serve as a disease vector and transmit a number of diseases, including dengue fever, chikungunya, and Zika virus.

While these diseases are not yet widespread in the US, the spread of the Asian tiger mosquito has raised concerns that they could become more common in the future.

Two factors are accelerating the insect’s spread: climate change and human transportation. While little can be done in the short-term about changing weather patterns, there are actions Americans can take to stem its spread:

One of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of the Asian tiger mosquito is to eliminate standing water around homes and businesses. The mosquito lays its eggs in standing water, so removing sources of standing water, such as flower pots, buckets, and old tires, can significantly reduce the mosquito population.

Another effective strategy is to use mosquito repellents containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. The mosquito is known to hitchhike on goods and materials that are transported across borders, allowing it to rapidly expand its range. Therefore, people who are travelling interstate, particularly from east to west, are encouraged to wear repellent before setting off on their journey.
Also, it is important to support community-wide efforts to control the mosquito population. This can include initiatives such as mosquito trapping and surveillance programs, public education campaigns, and mosquito control measures such as larviciding and adulticiding.

The Asian tiger mosquito was discovered in Michigan for the first time in 2017, in an industrial area of Livonia in Wayne County. In 2018, the mosquitoes were again found in Wayne County, in an industrial area of Romulus. In 2020, the mosquito was discovered in an industrial area in Taylor.

It is a highly adaptable species that can survive in a wide range of environments, from urban to rural areas, and from temperate to tropical climates. Unlike many other mosquito species, the Asian tiger mosquito is active during the day, with peak biting activity occurring in the early morning and late afternoon. The mosquito is particularly prevalent in southeastern states, where it has become established in both urban and rural areas.


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