The acronym “ATM” may have an entirely different meaning this summer. If predictions that our excessively wet spring will foster the breeding of more mosquitoes are accurate, an ATM will become something you want to avoid, rather than visit.
In mid-June, the Monmouth County Mosquito Extermination Commission issued a warning for residents to be on the lookout for the Asian tiger mosquito. The Asian tiger mosquito (or ATM), is a medium-sized black and white mosquito with a white stripe running down the center of its head and back, with white bands on the legs. It is native to the tropical and subtropical areas of Southeast Asia. This species has invaded many countries throughout the world through the transport of goods and increasing international travel. It is believed the Asian tiger mosquito was introduced into the United States in tire casings imported for recapping, spreading the species to more than 20 states since 1985.
It was first discovered in Monmouth County in 1995 and has since spread throughout our area, greatly increasing in numbers. It is extremely aggressive and can potentially transmit several diseases, including West Nile Virus and dog heartworm. Unlike other mosquitoes, it feeds during the day; primarily on people. The Asian tiger mosquito usually does not fly more than about a half mile from its breeding site. Adult mosquitoes can emerge in less than two weeks after the eggs hatch during the summer.
Asian tiger mosquitoes spend the winter in the egg stage, hatching into larvae when the eggs are covered with water in the spring and summer. The larvae feed on small bits of debris and bacteria in the water. The mosquito will bite squirrels, dogs, deer, and other animals as well as people.
“The larvae of the ATM can be found living in water collected in containers of almost any size,” said Monmouth County Freeholder Deputy Director Serena DiMaso, liaison to the commission. “A container as small as a soda bottle top may be home to hundreds of mosquito larvae.”
Officials listed several ways to prevent creating a home for mosquito larvae, including:
• Keep buckets, wheel barrows, trash bins, etcetera free of standing water.
• Change water in kiddie pools, pet dishes, and bird baths at least once per week.
• Discard all unwanted containers like empty cans and old tires.
“Containers” can be old tires, buckets, children’s toys, flower pot saucers, tarpaulins, and bird baths. Do not overlook holes in portable basketball hoop bases, flexible downspout extensions, and boats. Any container that can hold water for more than seven days can provide a home for mosquito larvae, officials caution. Homeowners are urged to look behind sheds, under decks or porches, and under bushes for unexpected locations where water can pool and create a breeding ground. In this case, an ounce of prevention can save you, your family, tenants, and pets from serious illness.
Monmouth County residents can dispose of rimless tires free of charge at the Monmouth County Reclamation Center. For more information on the Reclamation Center, call (732) 683-8686 or visit www.visitmonmouth.com. For more information about the Asian tiger mosquito and mosquito control, contact the Monmouth County Mosquito Extermination Commission at (732) 542-3630 or visit the webpage at www.visitmonmouth.com/mosquito.
J10ALL — The public is being warned this summer about the proliferation of the Asian tiger mosquito, an especially dangerous species in our area.