Geographic location of the bug: La Mesa California
Time: 01:51 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Just wanted to know what this is we are getting bit leaving big bumps and really itchy
How you want your letter signed: Robin
We are sorry to have to bear bad news, but this sure appears to be one of the invasive disease carrying Mosquitoes in the genus Aedes. We believe, based on this BugGuide image, that it is the Yellow Fever Mosquito, Aedes aegypti, which is described on BugGuide as being a: “Medium-sized blackish mosquito easily recognized by a silvery-white ‘lyre-shaped’ pattern of scales on its scutum.” According to BugGuide: “the most important and efficient epidemic vector of dengue viruses, has been in the United States for over 200 years and was responsible for transmitting major epidemics in the southern states in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The female mosquitoes are very nervous feeders, disrupting the feeding process at the slightest movement, only to return to the same or a different person to continue feeding moments later. Because of this behavior, A. aegypti females will often feed on several persons during a single blood meal and, if infective, may transmit dengue virus to multiple persons in a short time, even if they only probe without taking blood. It is not uncommon to see several members of the same household become ill with dengue fever within a 24- to 36-h time frame, suggesting that all of them were infected by a single infective mosquito. It is this behavior that makes A. aegypti such an efficient epidemic vector. Inhabitants of dwellings in the tropics are rarely aware of the presence of this mosquito, making its control difficult.” According to the California Department of Health: “Two invasive (non-native) mosquito species have recently been found in several California cities …, and there is a potential for them to spread into other areas of California. They are named Aedes aegypti (the yellow fever mosquito) and Aedes albopictus (the Asian tiger mosquito). Unlike most native mosquito species, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus bite during the day. Both species are small black mosquitoes with white stripes on their back and on their legs. They can lay eggs in any small artificial or natural container that holds water. Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus have the potential to transmit several viruses, including dengue, chikungunya, Zika, and yellow fever. None of these viruses are currently known to be transmitted within California, but thousands of people are infected with these viruses in other parts of the world, including in Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Asia. The presence of Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes in California poses a threat that Zika, dengue, and chikungunya viruses can be transmitted in infested areas from returned infected travelers. Travelers can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites. When traveling to countries with dengue, chikungunya, or Zika, use insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants, and stay in places with air conditioning or with window and door screens. ” It is important to stress that though these Mosquitoes are present in California, they need to be infected to transmit diseases. Since the diseases themselves have not been reported in California, the bites you are experiencing will not give you the disease, but nonetheless still result in the itchy welt that appears with most Mosquito bites.
Ed. Note: We noticed this Facebook comment from Richard Schroeder “According to the news, San Diego county has a large number of black salt marsh mosquitoes right now” and we decided we needed additional research. The San Diego Union-Tribune website and other sources documented a 2009 outbreak of Black Salt Marsh Mosquitoes and images on BugGuide (which does not report the species from California) look similar to the Mosquito pictured in this submission, so the jury is still out on the actual identity of the pictured Mosquito.
Thanks to Cesar Crash for confirming our original identification.