As if regular old mosquitoes weren’t bad enough, the Allegheny County Health Department is reporting that the Asian tiger mosquito has been found throughout Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood.
More common mosquitoes generally bother birds, and people as well, but they're usually most active at dawn and dusk. That’s not the case with this insect.
“The Asian tiger mosquito loves people,” said Health Department entomologist Bill Todaro. “It bites in the morning, it bites in the afternoon and it bites in the evening.”
A statement from the county states that complaints about the Asian tiger mosquito have been limited to Lawrenceville. But officials warn it could turn up elsewhere in the region because it has been found in two other municipalities in previous seasons.
Todaro said in other areas in the U.S. where the tiger mosquito has become established, it’s changed entire neighborhoods.
“People do not go outside, people wait until there’s a windy day before they’ll cut their lawn, they don’t grow their gardens, they don’t talk to their neighbors, so it’s a big nuisance." Todaro said. "So in a tight neighborhood like Lawrenceville I think it’s going to be a big headache."
County health officials have already treated health basins in the area and are now asking residents to do their part by cleaning their yards and making sure there is no standing water on their property.
“We can’t get into everybody’s yard,” Todaro said. “So if they will clean the gutters on their roof, I know that’s difficult, but gutters have to be cleaned several times a year. If they can eliminate any stagnant water in buckets or tires or pails or anything else.”
It’s known as the Asian tiger because of its Southeast Asian origin and characteristic black-and-white striped legs and body. It can transmit the West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases to humans and domestic animals.
“It’s an excellent vector of dog heartworm, it carries several viruses that attack your joints and your hands and your feet, it carries Dengue Fever, one of the biggest diseases in the world,” Todaro said.
But he emphasized disease is not common and these Asian tiger mosquitoes are mostly just a huge annoyance.
The county recommends the following measures for residents:
- Get rid of items that hold water such as tires, buckets, flowerpots, junk piles and cans.
- Clean out roof gutters and storm drains.
- Change the water in birdbaths once or twice a week.
- Empty and turn over plastic wading pools when not in use.
- Drain water from plastic coverings on swimming pools and outdoor furniture.
- Properly filter/chlorinate backyard swimming pools and dismantle those not in use.
- Fill in depressions on your lawn to prevent accumulation of water.
- Repair leaky outdoor faucets that can create a pool of stagnant water.
Todaro said if anyone notices a neighbor is not in compliance, they should call the Allegheny County Health Department with an address and report it. The department can issue a violation notice and a Health Department enforcement action requiring the property owner to clean up.