Reproduced from Wing Beats of the AMCA, the official publication of the Florida Mosquito Control Association. Please use the following citation when referring to this article:
Novak, R. 1992. The asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus. Wing Beats, Vol. 3(3):5.
(Note: See also Morphological Comparisons of Aedes/Ochlerotatus species.)
The Asian Tiger Mosquito, Aedes albopictus.
DR. ROBERT NOVAK
The infestation and subsequent establishment of Aedes albopictus, the Asian tiger mosquito, into the Americas is one of the most significant public health events that has occurred since Ae. aegypti and Anopheles gambiae invaded this region. Aedes albopictus was brought into the United States and other countries through the worldwide transport of used tires. Aedes albopictus is associated with the transmission of dengue, eastern equine encephalitis and dog heartworm, and potentially with St. Louis and LaCrosse encephalitis viruses.
Aedes albopictus occurs throughout the Oriental Region from the tropics of Southeast Asia, the Pacific and Indian Ocean Islands, north through China and Japan and west to Madagascar. During this century it has expanded into the Hawaiian Islands and islands of the southern Pacific. Introductions and subsequent establishment of this species have occurred in North and South America. Recent collections have been made in Europe, Africa, and Australia. In the United States, it is established in most states east of the Mississippi River as far north as Minnesota and Delaware.
Adult males and females are covered with shiny black scales with distinct silver white bands on the palpus and tarsi. Its most striking characteristic is the band of silver scales forming a distinct stripe on the dorsal surface of the thorax and head.
The Asian tiger mosquito is a container-inhabiting species which lays its eggs in any water-containing receptacle in urban, suburban, rural and forested areas. The primary immature habitats of this species are artificial containers such as tires, flower pots, cemetery urns/vases, buckets, tin cans, rain gutters, ornamental ponds, drums, even the finger holes of an abandoned bowling ball have been reported. Larvae are also found in natural containers such as treeholes, bamboo pots, and leaf axils.
Because of its widespread distribution Aedes albopictus is found in association with numerous container-inhabiting mosquitoes, including Aedes, Culex, Toxorhynchites, Trichoprosopon, Uranotoenia and Armigeres. In North America it is commonly found with Aedes aegypti, Ae. triseriatus and Culex species. In general, Ae. albopictus is the most abundant species present in shared habitats, but often occurs alone.
This mosquito prefers to lay its eggs above the water surface on dark rounded vertical surfaces. Field studies show a preference for black, red or woody substrates. Eggs can be collected effectively with black oviposition cans fitted with balsa wood strips or seed germination paper. An important biological feature of this species is its photoperiodism. In temperate climates Ae. albopictus overwinters in the egg stage. When adult females experience long days, they produce non-over wintering eggs, during short days they produce eggs that overwintering.
Depending on temperature and the availability of food, Ae. albopictus can complete larval development between 5 and 10 days; the pupal stage in 2. Increased larval density or a decrease in food can cause increased mortality and a decrease in adult size. Though limited food is the primary cause of death, parasites (ciliates and neogregarines), and predators (Toxorhynchites larvae) may exert substantial influence on population size.
Flight and Migration
The flight range of adults is limited, and they have not been observed to fly in strong winds. Its major means of dispersal is through the transport of used and waste tires. The movement of other water-holding containers could also play a role in expanding its range.
Aedes albopictus is a very aggressive daytime biter with peaks generally occurring during the early morning and late afternoon. It feeds on a number of hosts including man (indoors and outdoors), domestic and wild animals and birds. Its generalized feeding behavior contributes to its vector potential.
Dr. Novak is as Associate Professional Scientist for the Illinois Natural History Survey and Associate Professor, U. of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana.