Attack of the Mosquitoes!

Have you noticed that the mosquitoes are being super aggressive lately? You are not alone, and you are not crazy! We have gotten a lot of calls in the last 4-5 days from our existing customers who say that they have seen a sudden surge in mosquito activity, and we are here to tell you that this won’t last for long. We have been able to identify the mosquito responsible for this unusual activity, a floodwater mosquito called Psorophora columbiae.

Psorophora columbiae

It is a little known fact that there are 85 species of mosquito in Texas, not all of which bite humans. There are a number of species that we see commonly in the Austin area, including:

  • Culex quinquefasciatus, the Southern House Mosquito, which is medium sized, brown, breeds in dirty water and tends to bite at night and indoors. This is the mosquito that carries West Nile Virus.
  • Aedes aegypti, the Yellow Fever Mosquito, which is black with white stripes on the legs, breeds in standing water, and tends to bite during the day, especially in the morning or late afternoon.  This is one of the mosquitoes that carries diseases such as Dengue Fever, Chikungunya and Zika.
  • Aedes albopictus, the Asian Tiger Mosquito which is also black with white stripes, breeds in standing water and is active during the day. This mosquito also carries such diseases as Zika, Dengue Fever and Chikungunya.

The other mosquito species in Texas that are bothersome to people are mostly what are called “Floodwater Mosquitoes,” which means that they lay their eggs in areas that occasionally flood. The eggs of some of these species can be completely dried out for several years! When the rain comes after a dry spell and they find themselves in a wet environment, the eggs progress quickly through their lifecycle and hatch as adults in about two weeks. They are highly aggressive and quickly lay more eggs in those same areas, and then die off in just a few weeks. Thankfully they are not good disease vectors because of this very short lifecycle.

The floodwater mosquito that we are seeing a lot of now is called Psorophora columbiae, also known as the Dark Ricefield Mosquito. They travel up to five or 10 miles from their hatch site to find a blood meal, so you don’t necessarily have to live next to a field to see them. They are persistent biters that attack day and night and even in direct sunlight. They have dark and silver coloring and they do tend to bite when they are disturbed, which is why you may notice them coming out when you go to water the plants in your yard.

The bad news is that these mosquitoes hatch in huge numbers, which makes them difficult to control. The good news is that the adult stage of their lifecycle is very short, so they won’t be with us for more than a few weeks.