The Asian Tiger Mosquito is Taking Over LA: Here’s What You Need to Know

by Carissa Zadwarny


The Asian Tiger Mosquito is Taking Over LA: Here’s What You Need to Know

Before you panic, get informed.

Not that you needed anything else to stress over in 2020, but here’s one more (and don’t kill the messenger, OK?). The Asian Tiger Mosquito is running rampant in Los Angeles and you probably had no idea. 

The Asian Tiger Mosquito is like a regular mosquito, only slightly more dangerous and a little more blood-sucking. We got the rundown from Dr. Nancy Samolitis on everything Asian Tiger Mosquito: what it is, how to prevent bites, and how to treat them. Here’s what to look out for this mosquito season. 

The first thing to know about Asian Tiger Mosquitos is that they lurk in the daytime, as opposed to regular blood suckers who prefer a nocturnal schedule. And they’re much more ruthless. “They are quite aggressive and often bite several times within a short period of time”, says Dr. Samolitis.

Not only are they aggressive, they’re wily. “These mosquitoes fly fast and are hard to see because of their black and white “tiger skin”. They are also known as ankle biters,” explains Dr. Samolitis.

Like their common counterparts, the Asian Tiger Mosquito loves water. Dr. Samolitis explains, “They can breed in fairly quickly in small amounts of water, which has made them popular in Southern California yards with fountains and pools.”

Unlike normal mosquito bites, which are already itchy by nature, Asian Tiger Mosquito bites are much more intense. “Since Californians have not been exposed to them in the past, the skin reactions are a bit more robust and result in red, itchy bumps,” says Dr. Samolitis.

If you do get bit, don’t panic. Dr. Samolitis recommends this quick fix: “Apply ice to reduce the itching sensation. You can also apply a menthol-containing topical cream to reduce discomfort.” As hard as it is, it’s important to remember to not scratch. “In most cases, bites can cause itchy, swollen bumps. Scratching them aggressively can lead to skin infections, so stick with applying ice or anti-itch moisturizing creams instead of scratching”, explains Dr. Samolitis.

While it’s rare, take note of any extreme symptoms. “If you are experiencing symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath, or joint pains after a bite, see your primary care physician,” notes Dr. Samolitis.

“These mosquitos fly fast and are hard to see because of their black and white ‘tiger’ skin.”

So how do we prepare for the worst? The answer: proper protection. “Mosquito repellents such as DEET are known to be the most effective,” says Dr. Samolitis. “However, there are some natural repellents, fragrances like citronella, and other herbs can be helpful as preventative measures.” The most effective way to prevent bites? “Wear protective clothing and avoid areas where the mosquitoes are known to live,” she advises. 

Even though their bites are more uncomfortable, as far as disease is concerned, Dr. Samolitis is quick to shut down any major cause for concern. “So far, there are no reports of typical mosquito-borne diseases associated with Asian Tiger Mosquitos, like Zika virus, dengue virus, and yellow fever.” We’ll take it, even if it means a little more itching in the short-term.

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