Texas reigns supreme when it comes to mosquitoes. Due to the high temperatures in the state, the mosquito season can last from February to November, much longer than in many other areas. According to Orkin, Texas has seven cities on the “Top Mosquito Cities” list.
There are over 200 mosquito species in the United States; only 12 can carry diseases and pathogens. You can find five major mosquito species in the “Lone Star” state, four of which can spread diseases and pathogens. Find out the main culprits in Texas, what diseases they carry, and how to prevent mosquito bites.
Highland Flood Water Mug
Upland water mosquitoes are easily identified by their “B”-shaped markings on their abdomens. They are most active at night, at dusk and dawn and will bite even during the day in shady areas. These pests lay their eggs near floodwaters or standing water and are usually nearby unless they have to forage for food.
These mosquitoes can transmit Bunyaviridae, which can cause viral hemorrhagic fever. Professionals advise people to avoid flooded areas, remove all standing water sources, trim landscapes and clear debris from their yards while producing nesting sites.
Eastern saltmarsh mosquito
As their name suggests, eastern salt marsh mosquitoes live in dense swamps, shallow pools, and other brackish water sources inland. You may recognize them by their dark scales and white markings on their bodies and legs. However, this species has an exceptionally long flight distance and will often be more than 100 miles from their larval habitats.
They are active day and night and the females are aggressive biters who eat meals from most animals, especially humans. The eastern salt marsh can be a carrier of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and heartworm in dogs.
southern house mosquito
Southern mosquitoes thrive in warm weather, making them perfect pests for sunny, hot Texas. This species is medium sized and brown and prefers to eat and lay eggs at night. They like dirty water collections such as standing drains, septic tanks and burrows. Males and females eat sugar from plants, but females seek blood after mating because it is suitable for egg development.
Southern house mosquitoes prefer the blood of birds, but will bite humans if given the chance. They spread various diseases and infections such as West Nile, encephalitis, filariasis and avian malaria.
Asian tiger mosquito
Tiger mosquitoes, or forest mosquitoes, are native to Southeast Asia but spread to other countries through transported goods. They get their name from the white bands that run across their bodies, but it can be difficult to tell them apart from other species. Females lay their eggs next to water sources and do not stray far. In wooded areas you are more likely to be bitten during the day.
The tiger mosquito is a persistent biter that is known to be a major nuisance to humans. This species can transmit diseases such as dengue fever, yellow fever, encephalitis and heartworm in pets.
dark rice field mosquito
You can find the dark rice field mosquitoes in large parts of North and South America. They get their name from their dark color and tendency to live in flooded rice fields. They are often located near sun-exposed water sources, such as pooled water on farmland. Their population tends to explode after periods of heavy rainfall.
These pests are an itchy nuisance, but are not known for causing any harmful effects on humans (they are harmful to livestock, however). The best way to deter the dark rice paddy mosquito is to remove standing water on your property.
What diseases do mosquitoes carry?
Infected mosquitoes can only spread disease. After being bitten by an infected mosquito, you have a one in 300 chance of contracting the disease. Most people infected with a mosquito-borne disease have mild short-term symptoms, while others may experience more severe long-term effects. In extreme cases, these diseases can lead to death.
Mosquitoes spread diseases such as Zika virus, West Nile virus, Chikungunya virus, dengue, malaria, encephalitis and more. Each species can carry and transmit different diseases, and mosquitoes vary by region.
Only female mosquitoes eat blood meals, and their bites inject saliva into your skin. Your body produces a mild allergic reaction and reacts with an itchy, red bump. Some people’s bodies react more violently by causing fever, hives and swollen lymph nodes.
The best way to treat a mosquito bite is to wash the area with soap and water, apply an ice pack, and use itch cream. You should go to the emergency room if your symptoms after a mosquito bite include nausea, fever, swollen lymph nodes, skin rash, or prolonged headache. These intense symptoms can be signs of mosquito-borne diseases.
How to prevent mosquito bites?
When you go outside, the best way to protect yourself from mosquito bites is to use repellents and wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Use an EPA-registered repellent, follow the instructions and reapply if necessary. You can also treat your clothes with 0.5% permethrin, an insecticide, to deter mosquitoes. If you plan to be outside for an extended period of time, consider using mosquito nets coated with permethrin. You can also place nets over strollers to protect children.
People can also get mosquito infestations on their property. However, you can quickly reverse it with a few tweaks.
- Install screens on windows and doors. Fix any holes in screens to keep them out.
- Use air conditioning. Mosquitoes need a warm, moist environment and are naturally repelled by cool, dry homes.
- Find and remove standing water on your property, such as swimming pools, discarded tires, buckets, planters, toys, birdbaths, and dumpsters. If you cannot remove it, discard the water, turn the item over, or cover it. Be sure to look for water-retaining containers indoors and out.