Zika virus has become a major concern over the past year after thousands of cases were reported in South and Central America, the Caribbean, and American Samoa, and more than 190 travel-related cases were reported in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“There is no vaccine for Zika virus, Chikungunya virus, or West Nile virus. The only protection is preventing mosquito bites, so anyone who spends time outdoors during the spring and summer months needs to take precaution by eliminating standing water where mosquitoes can breed,” said Ron Harrison, Ph.D., entomologist and Orkin technical services director.
Mosquitoes In the United States
As temperatures increase in the U.S., so will the threat of mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika virus. While June, July, and August are the prime months for mosquito activity, mosquito season can begin as early as March in the southern part of the U.S. where temperatures are warmer. For the third year in a row, the Atlanta area heads up the list of Top Mosquito Cities, according to Orkin, followed by Chicago and Washington, DC. A total of eight cities in the Southeast are included in the ranking – more than any other region.
“Mosquitoes are a major health concern during the summer,” said Harrison. “Mosquitoes are known carriers of several diseases, including Zika virus, Chikungunya virus, and West Nile virus, so people across the United States – whether their city is on the list or not – need to take precaution to help prevent mosquito bites.”
Below is Orkin’s top 20 cities ranked by the number of mosquito customers the company served in 2015:
- Washington, DC
- New York
- Dallas-Ft. Worth
- Nashville, TN
- Charlotte, NC
- Raleigh-Durham, NC
- Memphis, TN
- Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL
- Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News, VA
- Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, MI
- Greenville-Spartanburg, SC, Asheville, NC
- Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY
- Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
Here are the most common mosquitoes in the U.S., where they thrive, and which viruses they can spread:
- Aedes Mosquitoes: The most common types of Aedes mosquitoes are commonly referred to as Asian tiger or yellow fever mosquitoes. They can carry and spread Zika virus, Chikungunya virus and Dengue virus. They are most common in the southern United States. Aedes mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters and also bite at dusk and dawn.
- Culex Mosquitoes: These mosquitoes are in every state and can carry and spread West Nile virus. They are most common at dusk and dawn.
- Anopheles Mosquitoes: In addition to spreading Malaria, which has been considered eradicated from the United States, these mosquitoes can transmit dog heart worm and other viruses. They have been found in every state and are most active at dusk and dawn.
To help protect against mosquito-borne illnesses, Orkin makes the following recommendations:
Eliminate Standing Water
- Remove standing water from gutters, buckets, toys and other containers, as mosquitoes can breed in just a few inches of standing water.
- Change water weekly in bird baths, fountains, potted plants and any containers that hold standing water.
- Keep pool water treated and circulating.
Prevent Mosquito Bites
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Use EPA-registered mosquito repellents containing one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol or IR3535.
Eliminate Entry Points
- Use air-conditioning when possible.
- Close gaps around windows and in walls.
- Repair and use window and door screens to help prevent entry.
Visit the Centers for Disease Control site for the latest information on known Zika-affected areas and updated travel alerts. For more information about Zika virus, visit Orkin’s Zika virus page. For more mosquito information and prevention tips, visit Orkin’s Mosquitoes page.