The Dengue Mosquito- Aedes aegypti

Wednesday, 21/09/2016

With so many Dengue cases popping up all over the Indian subcontinent, it has become important for us to educate and arm ourselves against this disease-spreading organism.
Here is what you need to know:

1. Which Mosquito Causes Dengue?

The dengue virus is carried and spread by mosquitoes in the genus Aedes, which includes a number of mosquito species. Of these species, the primary vector of the dengue virus is the species Aedes aegypti. It is the principal dengue vector responsible for dengue transmission and dengue epidemics. Other mosquito species in the genus Aedes — including Aedes albopictus, Aedes polynesiensis, and Aedes scutellaris — have a limited ability to serve as dengue vectors. The Dengue spreading mosquito is best identified due to the unique white lines on its body. The Aedes aegypti mosquito is the carrier of the Dengue fever. The fever is transmitted on to humans through the bites of the female Aedes mosquito, which mainly acquires the virus while feeding on the blood of another infected person.

2. Only Female Mosquitoes Are Carriers
Dengue fever can only be caused by the bite of a female mosquito. The fever is carried and spread by female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes because our blood contains a certain kind of protein, which is vital for the production of their eggs.
Male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are not injurious to our health as they are dependent on plant nectar for their survival.

3. Where Is The Mosquito Usually Found?
While it is of significance that we learn how to identify these mosquitoes, it is also important that we educate ourselves with their dwellings. They can usually be found in:
• Areas lacking piped water systems.
• Artificial or natural water containers such as water coolers, storage containers, flowerpots, wheels, buckets, tin cans, clogged rain gutters, ornamental fountains, drums, water bowls for pets, birdbaths, etc. Any kind of stagnant water bodies that are within or close to places where humans live are ideally larval habitats for this mosquito.
• Underground collections of water, like wells.

4. Preferred Breeding Grounds
These mosquitoes prefer breeding outdoors and during the daytime, which is when they bite more frequently as well. However, this does not mean they cannot survive indoors. The preference for outdoors is present because the environment provided indoors is not ideal always. Though, the indoor environment can also provide a safe haven from the weather changes occurring outside.

5. Life Cycle Of The Mosquito
If provided with suitable conditions, the Dengue mosquito can hatch an egg in less than one day. From the egg comes a larva that takes another four days to develop into a pupa. In order for the cycle to be completed, the pupa then turns into an adult mosquito in another two days. This adult mosquito then lays eggs three days after the ingestion of blood. The cycle then continues on.

6. Biting Behavior
Aedes aegypti is mostly out for biting during the day. This species is commonly inactive in the hours before the sunrise and after the sunset, but it is capable of biting at night in well-lit areas. This mosquito can bite people without being noticed because it mostly approaches from behind and bites on the ankles and elbows. Aedes aegypti prefers biting humans but it also bites dogs and other domestic animals, mostly mammals. Only the female Aedes aegypti bites to obtain blood in order to lay eggs.

7. Does The Mosquito Die In Winters?
Aedes aegypti is unable to breed in temperatures lower than 16 degrees. Periods of high activity are often between the months of August to October. The activity of this Dengue causing mosquito is rarely registered outside of this bracket. They don’t die, however, they are not able to procreate either, which also implies that they are unable to infect humans during this time.