Creature Feature

Yellow Fever Mosquito

The yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) originated in Africa, where it evolved from an ancestor that still exists there today. Its ancestor prefers to lay eggs in natural tree holes and to feed on non-human animals. At some point, the yellow fever mosquito became domesticated, breeding in artificial containers close to humans and preferring human hosts. This domestication allowed their introduction into the New World via European ships leaving West Africa with slaves and containers of drinking water also holding immature yellow fever mosquitoes.

Yellow fever existed in Africa before the Europeans arrived and followed them into the New World in the 1600s. Epidemics killed thousands of people through the early 1900s until it was discovered that the yellow fever mosquito was the disease vector. Afterwards, mosquito eradication campaigns and a vaccine developed in the 1930s virtually eliminated yellow fever from the United States. However, this mosquito is also the most efficient vector of dengue, chikungunya and Zika viruses.

Because the yellow fever mosquito prefers to breed near and feed on humans, treatments applied around structures are effective. To quickly knock down biting adults, apply a liquid residual insecticide with a backpack mist blower to adult mosquito resting sites under shady and secluded areas such as foliage, eaves and decks. Populations can also be reduced by removing standing water on a property, but it can be difficult to find all the small sites where eggs have been laid. Providing breeding sites treated with both a larvicide and a slow-acting adulticide can help solve this problem. The larvae don’t survive, and the adult females go on to contaminate the egg-laying sites they visit afterwards with larvicide until they die, a process called auto-dissemination.

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The most important mosquito disease vectors in the United States belong to the genera Aedes & Culex. Diseases transmitted by these mosquitoes cycle differently in human populations. After completing this course, you should be able to identify the important mosquito-borne diseases in their area, recognize common forms of adult mosquito and disease surveillance, and understand the different methods of adulticide application.

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