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Aggressive species of mosquito is cause for concern

By Bo Koltnow, Reporter, BKoltnow@wfmz.com
Published On: Apr 17 2012 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 18 2012 05:24:58 PM CDT

Lehigh valley officials are on the lookout for a tiny pest that can cause big problems.

There are more than 60 different species of mosquitoes in Pennsylvania, but the Asian Tiger is cause for particular concern.

With her mosquito catching machine on hand, Lehigh County's West Nile coordinator, Louise Bugbee, was busy collecting and testing local mosquitoes
Wednesday.

"These were collected last [Tuesday] night in Heidelberg Township," Bugbee said. "It's a good time to remember that mosquitoes are looking for water in which to breed."

An international breed, the aedes albopictus, or Asian Tiger mosquito, is one those to which Bugbee is paying close attention.

"It's an aggressive biter, bites in the day time," she said.

The Asian Tiger was first found in the U.S. in Houston back in the 1980s but has since spread throughout the East Coast.

Don't let it's pretty black and white stripes fool you. This is a nasty bugger.

"It's a good vector for the Dengue Virus," warned Bugbee, adding that the virus causes high fever and painful aches to victims.

"I knew someone who had it. Said it doesn't kill you, but you wish it would," Bugbee said.

Bugbee also said the monster mosquito is now common in York, Philadelphia and Chester counties, which is why John Rackus, the public works director for Whitehall Twp., Lehigh Co., wants to stop the Asian Tiger before it's a problem here.

"People have to be diligent about litter and all kinds of water on their property," Rackus said.

The little rascals can breed in the tiniest of water, which means left over rain on your pool cover, drink for your dog or water for bird baths needs to go.

"All mosquitoes are a cause for concern because they can carry diseases on humans and animals," said Bugbee, who found several random samples of the Asian Tiger mosquito in Lehigh County a few years ago. She said it's a matter of time before they land for good, and she said don't forget about West Nile. A horse in Northampton County was put down last week after contracting the virus.