We’re safe from yellow fever, but this thirsty, persistent mosquito is beyond annoying

Local News

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — If you have noticed an increase in the number of mosquitos in your yard, and an increase in the persistence of those mosquitos, you’re not alone. The Aedes Aegypti (pronounced AE-diss ah-JIPT-ee) mosquito is among us, and local residents have been inundated. That’s according to Kern Mosquito and Vector Control, which had more than 1,000 complaint calls in July.

It’s 2020 so of course anything is possible, so when we learned that a species of mosquito known to spread yellow fever had alighted in Kern County we might have been forgiven for fearing the worst. Well — it’s bad. But it’s not that bad.

The Aedes Aegypti can potentially carry a host of exotic maladies like dengue fever, chikungunya, Zika fever, mayaro and the ailment that gives the yellow fever mosquito one of its nicknames — yellow fever. But the Aedes Aegypti has another nickname that better suits its threat in Kern County: the ankle biter.

That’s because the female of the species will dive in for a drink from its human host five, six, even seven times before it’s satisfied.

And it favors softer tissue such as that found on the inside of elbows, the back of bare knees … and ankles.

Terry Knight of Kern Mosquito and Vector Control, a governmental special district, says the Aedes Aegypti poses no serious threat to health — but wow is it annoying.

“July and August have been very busy for us with the number of phone calls and people requesting service,” he said. “Last month we had over 1,000 phone calls at our district office compared to the prior year, which was 88 (complaints). So we are receiving 10 times the number of phone calls here at the district office from people … asking for service and help.”

The mosquito is native to Africa and thrives in tropical climates, where it’s at its most dangerous, but it’s been turning up in temperate climates all along the southern perimeter of the United States, coast to coast, including California’s Central Valley.

It was first detected in Arvin in 2014 but wasn’t recognized as a new mosquito species in Bakersfield until 2019. It is also spotted in Shafter and Wasco.

What can people to do protect themselves at home? Three things: tip, toss, protect.

Tip over or dump any containers, buckets, animal water dishes, plant water saucers and small container in your yard that might be containing water for more than four days. This mosquito can breed in as little as a teaspoon of water.

Toss out or haul off any unwanted or unneeded items on your yards. Tires, old toilets, recycled containers.

And protect yourself by using repellent with the active ingredient Deet.

If you spot a mosquito with white markings on its legs and a larger white mark on the upper surface of its thorax or midsection, introduce yourself. Then cover up and look for any standing water that might in your yard. That’s how we fight this thing — one puddle at a time.

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