Yellow fever bugs caught in backyard insect trap
Day-biting mosquitoes breed around urban residential areas
A mosquito trap in a backyard in the northern edge of the City of Tulare caught what many hope to be the only cases of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which is capable of transmitting several human diseases such as the Zika Virus.
The mosquito is also capable of transmitting other human diseases such as dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever, said John Avila, the general manager for the Tulare Mosquito Abatement District. Porterville does not have a mosquito abatement district.
Avila said that backyard trap caught a total of four Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes — two males and two females. He said the mosquitoes were detected on Thursday, Sept. 21.
Although the mosquitoes can transmit a number of deadly human diseases, Avila said they don’t inherently carry the viruses, but instead take them from person to person.
“You have to have people with dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika, you have to have cases of that here for it to spread because it takes it from one person to another,” he said.
Fortunately, Avila said there’s no one around with any of those viruses in Tulare County.
Even though there is no need to panic, Avila said there is a need for concern, especially when county residents travel to different countries such as Mexico where chikungunya and dengue are very prevalent.
“There’s hundreds and hundreds of cases, and there’s a lot of cases of Zika too,” Avila said.
As far as in California,
Avila said since 2013 the Aedes Aegypti mosquito has been detected in 13 counties such as in Madera County, Merced County, Fresno County and Kern County.
“Basically they are everywhere from San Diego to Merced County,” Avila said.
He said the farthest north the Aedes Aegypti mosquito has been found was in San Mateo County.
“That was three years ago, but they only found one, they never found any more even though they are looking for them,” Avila said.
Avila said the Aedes Aegypti mosquito was first detected in Southern California, specifically in Los Angeles County and some of the outlining areas in the Inland Empire, since about 2011.
“Pretty soon these mosquitoes are going to be everywhere,” Avila said.
In terms of how the Aedes Aegypti mosquito arrived in Tulare County, Avila said there’s no telling exactly how it got here, but he has ideas.
Because the Aedes Aegypti mosquito lays its eggs just above the water surface in small containers such as flower pots and pet bowls, Avila believes someone might have brought a small container from Southern California to Tulare County not
knowing the container contained Aedes Aegypti mosquito eggs.
“And then somebody stuck water in it, and as soon as water reaches those eggs the clock starts running and they can develop in less than a week,” Avila said of how he thinks the mosquitoes arrived in the county.
He added that the mosquitoes could also have hitchhiked to Tulare County.
“There is really no telling how it got here, but the better question is why, and that is because of the temperatures,” Avila said.
He noted that as the Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes, which are known to be tropical mosquitoes, make their way north, they continue to adapt to diverse temperatures.
In addition to being day-biting mosquitoes, Avila said residents should also be aware that the Aedes Aegypti mosquito breeds around homes in urban residential areas, not around farmland or around big areas of water such as ponding basins or swimming pools.
“It is probably in their [residents’] backyard and they don’t even know it,” Avila said.
However, Tulare and Visalia residents will perhaps have a better chance of knowing if the Aedes Aegypti mosquito is in their backyards due to those cities having mosquito abatement districts.
Porterville City Manager
John Lollis said the answer as to why Porterville doesn’t have a mosquito abatement district is simply because the residents don’t want one.
“There was a survey that was done asking whether or not a mosquito abatement district should be set up in the Porterville-lindsay area and the survey results were not favorable,” Lollis said.
Nevertheless, Lollis noted that the city does do maintenance to city facilities, the most common being the city’s storm drain basins.
“We drain water both for recharge and during the rain seasons, and we will spray for mosquitoes in those basins, which are the most usual accumulations of water in the community,” Lollis said.
Lollis said there are numerous other areas in town where water also accumulates. If such water remains stagnant for a while, he said the city will spray those areas as well.
“That’s within the public right of way,” Lollis added. “We don’t do any private abatement.”
Michael Camarena, the city services director for the City of Lindsay, said Lindsay faces a similar situation.
Camarena said many years ago the Lindsay City Council received a presentation on creating a mosquito abatement district, a proposal he said the council voted against.
Camarena said although the current council is well aware of the county’s mosquito problems, he said currently they have not been pursuing any sort of mosquito district.
“Unless somebody comes forward and makes the request, and we haven’t had any request from citizens for council to review that process,” Camarena said. “It is just one of those things that you can’t expect the city to provide. We have no stream of revenue to provide that service.”