West Nile Virus Mosquito Species

There are more than 2,500 species of mosquitoes around the world, about 200 of which can be found in North America. Meanwhile, 45 mosquito species are known to carry the West Nile virus, but some of the mosquitoes are more common carriers than others.

Here are some of the common mosquito carriers of the West Nile virus in US and Canada.

Culex pipiens – These species can be found in central and eastern United States except in Florida. Known as the northern house mosquito, they are common in urban and suburban areas as well as on rural communities. The culex pipien also carries several other diseases such as filariasis, Japanese encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, and avian malaria.

Although normally this specie feeds on birds, some urban strains are also prone to target humans. Its presence indicates signs of polluted water in the vicinity. These mosquitoes usually breed in storm sewer catch basins, clean and polluted ground pools, and other sites that are either clean or polluted with organic wastes.

Culex quinquefasciatus – Known as the southern house mosquito, they are generally active only during the winter months. They are known to attack humans towards the middle of the night both indoors and outdoors, although they also tend to attack birds as well. Just like the culex pipiens, they harbor deadly diseases like St. Louie encephalitis and filariasis, as well as often laying their eggs in slightly to very polluted waters.

Culex restuans – Known as the white-dotted mosquito, the restuans are distributed from central Canada to Mexico. They are very common in eastern and central United States, while very widespread in New Jersey. Just like any culex, the restuans breed on polluted waters, sometimes even on temporary ground pools or just about anywhere where water tends to become collected.

Aedes albopictus – The Asian tiger mosquito or forest day mosquito is characterized by its black and white striped legs and small, black and white body. It was native to Southeast Asia, but has since spread to southern USA since 1985, in Nigeria since 2002, and in New Zealand and eastern Canada since 2007.

In the United States, the Asian tiger mosquito has been spread to 678 counties in 25 mainland states, mostly in the southeast. Aside from West Nile virus, they also carry over 20 other arboviruses.

Aedes vexans – The inland floodwater mosquito is one of the most widespread mosquito species in the world. They are found in both warm and cold environments from New Zealand to western Africa to Iceland.

In North American, this specie is common in southern Canada and throughout the United States except Hawaii. The females are persistent biters and most active in the early evening. The adults are known to fly great distances and tend to get attracted to light.

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