The Aedes aegypti isn’t your average mosquito. These mosquitos have a high-pitched hum that is actually more like a romantic duet -- the sound of two A. aegypti mosquitoes mating in flight is not like any love song you’ve heard before.
They can also carry yellow fever, dengue fever and a disease called chikungunya, an ability that has researchers itching to get the parasites taken care of.
But don’t panic, none of the mosquitoes found in California have tested positive for those diseases yet.
The mosquitos also enjoy the odd habit of feeding on human prey during the day and have quite the appetite.
“This is a cosmopolitan mosquito that is now also highly adapted to feed on people,” UC Davis Entomologist Dr. Anton Cornel said. “So people are the major blood food source.”
In order to take a bite out of the mosquito population, Cornel has placed what he calls mosquito “death traps” in the front yards of 146 homes in suburban Clovis just east of Fresno.
Unlike more sophisticated traps that cost hundreds of dollars, this one developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is hand-made in Puerto Rico for about $6. The trap looks like a little black plastic trash can, and it uses no harsh chemicals or fancy equipment, just some mesh, glue, water and fermented grass.
“So they are attracted to this trap to lay their eggs in, and then get stuck to the glue, and of course that is the end of the mosquito,” Cornel said as he plucked 12 tiny mosquitos from the trap’s sticky “death chamber.” “And the more of these females that we collect, the more of the population we expect to be suppressed.”
And unlike other mosquitos, the A. aegypti can lay its eggs in as little as a tablespoon of water. Cornel hopes California residents will be vigilant about even small pools of stagnant water in their yards and urges public participation in the battle against the state’s puny, but potentially dangerous, pests.