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Friday, Nov. 30, 2001

ANIMAL TRACKER

Tiger mosquito


* Japanese name: Hitosujishimaka
* Scientific name: Aedes albopictus
* Description: A small, soft-bodied insect, the tiger mosquito is instantly recognizable by the black-and-white bands on its legs, and the distinctive white "racing stripe" on its black thorax. The antennae are tufted and are shorter than the body, which is 4-5 mm long. Mosquitoes, as we all know well, have mouthparts that are specially adapted for piercing skin.
* Where to find them: From Honshu to Kyushu, from May to November, tiger mosquitoes are found in gardens and woods, where they are active during the day. They are opportunistic breeders, laying eggs wherever water will gather. Larvae need only 6 mm of water to complete their development. Females glue their eggs to the sides of a tree hole, or in a small cavity such as an aluminum drink can or a car tire, above the water level. The eggs remain dormant until it rains, when they hatch. Larval development can be completed within 10 days.
* Food: Blood. Tiger mosquitoes feed on humans (preferring the lower legs), birds, and domesticated and wild animals. One blood meal enables a female to lay 300 eggs.
* Special features: Tiger mosquitoes are aggressive biters and agile fliers. They usually fly in, bite quickly and fly out before you can react. They can transmit several serious diseases, such as Dengue fever and West Nile virus, but not malaria. They may bite several times before they are sated with blood. Tiger mosquitoes are endemic to Asia, but have recently spread to North America. They do not fly for long distances -- their invasion of North America started with a shipment of tires from Asia.



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