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The Asian tiger mosquito, also known by its species name Aedes albopictus, is a black and white mosquito that originated in Southeast Asia, though today it is found around the world. It is invasive enough to be considered a pest in most areas and well known for spreading a number of diseases. Only the females feed on blood — males generally feed on nectar.
While the Asian tiger mosquito typically is small, only a fraction of an inch (a few millimeters) long, it can grow up to 0.4 inches (about 10 millimeters) long if it has an abundance of feeding sources. Like other mosquito species, the Asian tiger mosquito breeds smaller males than females. Both males and females, however, have a line of silvery scales that runs between their eyes down to their thorax. Their legs are striped with white and black, as are their bodies. Males also have hairy antennas that easily pick up the sounds of females.
Typical female tiger mosquitoes feed on warm-blooded creatures, including humans. They are usually active during the day and commonly hunt in forests. A female uses her proboscis to stab into a host's skin and suck out the blood. One unique feature of the Asian tiger mosquito is its ability to feed so quickly that hosts aren't able to swipe it away. Males do not feed on blood; they tend to prefer nectar and sweet plants as food sources.
Once the female has enough blood and is ready to reproduce, she finds some stagnant or running water and lays her eggs next to the water source. The eggs will hatch when the level of water rises after rainfall. At this point, the time between the larval and mature stages takes less than two weeks. In dry conditions, however, the eggs can survive up to a year.
The forest day mosquito will bite many different mammals, even birds. They bite several hosts during a feeding in order to get enough blood to develop eggs. Since it feeds on so many different species, this mosquito is readily able to transmit viruses from one species to another.
These mosquitoes do have natural enemies, including swimming beetles, protozoans, flatworms, and other mosquito larvae. Paramecia can also kill Asian tiger mosquitos. Additionally, almost all types of spiders in the mosquito's breeding grounds feed on the insects. Copepods, a type of tiny crustacean, will eat tiger mosquitoes as well.
Control of mosquitoes is an ongoing process. Since they carry such deadly diseases, people must protect themselves from getting bit in the first place. Mosquito repellents can prevent the majority of bites. It is also important to give dogs and cats preventative treatments, as mosquitoes can transmit the parasites that cause heartworm disease.
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