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Zika Virus Update

It’s hard to turn on the TV or visit the internet lately without hearing about the Zika Virus and the related birth defects now affecting large areas of Brazil.  I’m writing a short piece to help clarify the issue and answer some questions you might have.  I hope it helps.  We’ll begin at the beginning:

The Zika Virus

Yellow fever mosquito, courtesy of Wikipedia

Zika is not a new virus, cialis it was actually first described in Central Africa in 1947 in monkeys.  The first case of Zika confirmed in a human was not until 1952.  The virus itself is from the family Flaviviridae and is closely related to the Yellow Fever, Dengue and Chikungunya viruses.  Although related to Yellow Fever and Dengue Fever, Zika is significantly less severe.  Zika Fever presents as a minor cold with mild fever, body aches, rash and occasionally conjunctivitis (pink eye).  In extremely rare cases some Zika patients develop an autoimmune condition called Guillain-Barré syndrome.  Direct fatality from Zika Fever has yet to be reported.  By comparison, Yellow Fever kills 30,000 people each year, globally.

Zika is identifiable in infected persons via a blood serum test.  At the current time, there is no vaccine to prevent the Zika virus nor is there an anti-viral treatment for those who have already been infected.  There is research for a vaccine underway and even reports of possible vaccines available from laboratories in India.  The widespread distribution of a viable and tested vaccine is at least a year away, and more realistically 2-3 years.


Image courtesy of

Zika and Birth Defects

In 2016, the World Health Organization determined that the Zika virus was present in, and most likely responsible for, over 4000 cases of microcephaly in Brazil, a 2600% increase of that particular birth defect.  Babies born with microcephaly have abnormally small skulls and cranial capacity, usually resulting in severe mental retardation.  Zika has also been discovered in the amniotic fluid and brain tissue of miscarried fetuses, indicating the worst cases of Zika may compromise the pregnancy itself.  The Zika virus is passed from mother to unborn child via the placenta and umbilical cord where, scientists believe, it affects the development of the child, causing the defects described above.


Zika Transmission

The primary mechanism for transmission of the Zika virus is via female mosquitoes of the Aedes genus, notably the Yellow Fever Mosquito (Aedes aegyptii) and the Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes albopictus).  The female mosquito must first bite an infected primate, either human or monkey, then transfer the virus on its next feeding to an uninfected host.  Zika’s developmental and transmission cycle requires a viral reservoir of some kind as it does not remain persistent in the insect’s body for very long periods of time.  Before the recent outbreaks in Brazil (2015-16) and French Polynesia (2013-14), Zika was usually confined to arboreal monkeys and rarely spread to humans.  It is important to note that many viruses have “jumped” to other related species in the past, this method of primate to human transmission via mosquitoes is a rather standard occurrence in epidemiology, not a novel event.

courtesy of

There is now evidence that Zika can be spread sexually.  While the virus remains in the female body for a rather short amount of time (less than 2 weeks), it can persist in males much longer.  The virus has been shown to remain in the semen of infected males for up to 10 weeks after initial exposure.  There have been at least 3 cases of sexual transmission verified by the Centers for Disease Control since 2014.

There have been some studies to determine if the virus can be transmitted by direct blood transfusion but results have been slow in coming.  Considering sexual transmission is a reality, in all likelihood, further studies will reveal Zika can be passed through the blood, provided certain parameters are met (time, collection and processing methods, etc).  Once more, information is available, we will pass it on.


The Primary Vectors, Mosquitoes

Like many diseases, the Zika virus is spread primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito, in this case, mosquitoes of the Aedes genus.  As mentioned previously, the two most common Aedes mosquitoes of concern in the US are the Yellow Fever Mosquito and the Asian Tiger Mosquito.   There are many other kinds of Aedes mosquitoes but the YFM and ATM are most likely to encounter humans and spread disease due to their behavior.  Both mosquitoes are arboreal (tree-loving) or semi-arboreal in nature, feed during the daytime, and bite frequently as they obtain a complete blood meal from multiple hosts.

Aedes mosquitoes started out in tropical and subtropical zones but have quickly spread throughout the world as a result of global trade.  Aedes mosquitoes are known for utilizing small pools of temporary water as breeding points, making every untended and uncovered water container a potential breeding site.  Birdbaths, used tires, water buckets and tree holes are some of their favorite breeding grounds.  Entomologists believe the global spread of these mosquitoes is directly connected to used tire trade, transporting rain water-filled tires across and between continents, carrying mosquitoes and their larvae with them.

Controlling Aedes mosquitoes is a difficult task, especially in urban areas.  Often, the techniques used to manage native mosquitoes, such as draining/ditching, larvicide application to ponds and lakes and the use of biological controls like Mosquitofish  are not feasible in these types of areas.  Community-wide education programs tend to work best, provided the residents of the community are active and involved in the program.

Click here for some tips on how to manage mosquito populations.


image courtesy of the CDC

Protecting Yourself from the Virus

For most people in the Northeastern US, there is very little chance of catching the Zika Virus at this time.    Widespread transmission of the virus requires both a viral reservoir (a large group of infected primates) and a population of Aedes genus mosquitoes to affect transmission.  At this time, there is no viral reservoir in the United States. Additionally, our current climate is holding down mosquito populations, although as temperatures rise we will lose that advantage.

Male-to-female sexual transmission is the only way the virus can currently spread in the US, female-to-male sexual transmission has yet be verified.  Persons with the highest exposure for Zika are those traveling to and living in affected areas in Brazil, and females that have sex with males who have traveled to/from affected areas within the last 3 months.   Considering the layers of co-incidental factors, the vast majority of the US population is at virtually no risk. At the time of this article (2/26/16), approximately 50 cases have been described in the US.  Of those 50, the overwhelming majority had returned from a recent trip to Brazil.  There has been only one case of possible sexual transmission in the US since 2016 and that particular incidence is unconfirmed and still under review by the CDC.

(Update 4/6/16:  The number of cases in the US has increased to just over 300.  There is still no verifiable local transmission.)

Currently there is extremely little (almost zero) chance of the average US citizen to contract this virus.  Entomologists do expect Zika to spread slowly, as most diseases do, and ultimately end up in the US within the next decade or two (possibly more).  Since there is no resident lesser-primate (monkey/ape) population to utilize as a reservoir, there will be very little foothold for Zika in the US.  Since other Aedes based viruses like Yellow Fever and Dengue are almost non-existent in the US, one can expect Zika to share a similar fate.


Conspiracy Theory #1 Zika is being spread by genetically modified mosquitoes

This rumor first started in early January as the story broke in major media outlets without many facts and as such, speculation abounded.  In 2015 a British bio-engineering firm, Oxitec, released a genetically modified strain of Yellow Fever Mosquito into some areas of Brazil in an effort to control the spread of Dengue fever.  The genetically modified mosquitoes introduced then mate with the native population and the resultant eggs/larvae have been proven to not reach adulthood, thereby lowering YFM populations by 75%-90%.   The mosquitoes released are entirely male mosquitoes (remember- only adult females bite) and none of their offspring reach adulthood.  There is no connection between biting mosquitoes, much less Zika-transmitting mosquitoes, and genetically modified male mosquitoes.

Despite this evidence, there are some who insist on a Jurassic Park-like scenario despite the facts of the case and total absence of any link or correlation between Zika transmission and genetically modified male mosquitoes.

Read more about the Oxitec Solution here.


Conspiracy Theory #2: Widespread application of pesticides is the cause of the Microcephaly outbreak

In 2015 a group called the “Physicians in Crop-sprayed Towns in Argentina” released a declaration stating a link between the microcephaly outbreak and the application of the pesticide/insect growth regulator pyriproxyfen throughout Brazil.  The group further went on to implicate Monsanto as a culprit in this deliberate application of harmful chemicals to large populations in Brazil.   The report was roundly rejected by mainstream science based on its lack of scientific evidence, absence of cogent thought and several factual errors in the piece.  The group also states that native villages are the specific target of these applications, supposedly in an effort to depopulate those villages.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

First and foremost, pyriproxyfen (seen at right) has been in use for almost 30 years with an excellent safety record.  This particular pesticide works on chemicals found in the insect body that are simply not present in vertebrates, much less mammals.  Pyriproxyfen has been studied by the US EPA and approved for use as a pesticide and growth regulator for mosquito, flea, and tick control in the US.  The registration process for US-based pesticides includes approximately $100 million dollars worth of safety testing, including carcinogenic, tetragenic and mutagenic (cancer, birth-defect and genetic mutation, respectively) studies on non-target species.   To date, the US EPA has received no reports of pyriproxyfen affecting humans adversely when used properly.

While human exposure to pyriproxyfen is possible, if not probable, scientists estimate the average sized person must drink approximately 1000 liters of treated water every day to achieve a harmful level of this chemical in their system.

Additionally, in autopsies of babies and fetuses with microcephaly, there is no trace of pyriproxyfen in their systems, nervous tissues or the mother’s placenta/umbilicus.  None.  On the other hand, presence of the Zika virus has been confirmed in every case.

Also important to note, pyriproxyfen is not produced by Monsanto and their subsidiaries.  It is actually produced by the Japanese chemical company Sumitomo Chemical.  I’d also like to think there isn’t a global conspiracy to depopulate the Brazilian rain forests for unknown ends by persons unknown or known.

It is best to leave these conspiracy theories to their rightful place, in weekend television programming like The X-Files.  These “theories” and their derivatives should be given as much credence as the flat-earth, faked moon landing,  and Reptillian-alien conspiracies.

In Conclusion

The outbreak of microcephaly in Brazil is doubtless a tragedy affecting many thousands of Brazilians, thankfully cases of this rare birth defect have not spread beyond the geographic zones in which it originated. While the images of deformed babies are powerful and moving, they do not speak to the limited spread and very specific nature of the victims of this outbreak.

Although the Zika virus may be “new to us” it is certainly not new.  The virus is nowhere near epidemic proportions, let alone a global pandemic.  To compare, Zika is responsible for approximately 4000-5000 cases of microcephaly, versus the 20,000 deaths Dengue causes annually, of its approximately 50-500 million reported cases.   Zika may spread via multiple pathways as many viruses do but our incidence of exposure here in the US is almost absurdly low.

Certainly, this is an issue to be watched, studied and worked against and the scientific community is doing just that.  In the meantime, the average US citizen is more likely to be struck by lightning or be attacked by a shark than to contract Zika.  There are many more horrible diseases and parasites transmitted by insects and arthropods we must safeguard ourselves against.

This article is property of Ralph Citarella Jr. BCE and may not be reproduced, distributed or utilized without written permission from the author

Sources Cited:

5 Things You Need to Know About Zika. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2/24/16

Aedes.  Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 2/6/16

Aedes aegypti Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  2/14/16

A shocking one-third of Americans believe this Zika conspiracy theory. The Washington Post 2/23/16

Brazil, world health officials deny link between pesticide and 2/18/16


Dengue fever. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2/18/16

Experts debunk claim blaming larvicide, not Zika, for microcephaly- CBS News. 2/16/16

Free Resources on Aedes aegypti and Zika Virus Research- Entomology Today.  2/17/16

Mosquito Control Methods. National Pesticide Information Center website. 11/19/15

Our solution, The Oxitec approachOxitec Corporate Website. 2014-2016

Pyriproxyfen. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2/24/16

Transmission of Dengue Viruses. Nature Reviews: Microbiology. July 2007

What you need to know about Zika virus- CBS News.  2/18/16

Zika virus. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 2/23/16



Bayonne New Jersey Termite Swarm Alert

Have you ever seen a Termite Swarm? New Jersey homeowners should be on the alert – Spring is when Termite Swarms happen and if you’ve ever seen a swarm inside your house – you’ll never forget it. Termite swarms happen on warmer days in spring, sometimes the day after an evening shower or rain event. Swarms usually occur when established colonies produce winged male and female termites that reproduce. Soon after the so-called Swarm, fertilized termites shed their wings and go on to establish new colonies. Termite Swarmers are a sign of a mature termite colony – and we’re experts at eliminating those colonies. If you see winged insects like the picture below – call us for a FREE Inspection and estimate.



Bayonne New Jersey’s Most Common Rat

By far the most common type of Rat found in New Jersey is the Norway Rat (Rattus norvegicus).

Bayonne New Jersey Rat Control

Also known as the Brown Rat, ask Sewer Rat, treatment Norway Rat or Warf Rat, these larger rodents can be almost a foot long, not counting the tail and weigh up to a pound. Norway Rats are excellent burrowers, are extremely intelligent and live in large and complex social groupings. This intelligent and social nature has no doubt attributed to their negative perception. In modern society, Norway rats have adapted themselves perfectly to urban areas and sewer systems, living in extremely close contact with humans in inner cities and high poverty areas. Their extremely strong teeth and ability to burrow extensively allow them to move seamlessly through sewer systems and homes, as well as through most construction materials used to keep them out. Like most rodents, Norway Rats have a very high reproductive potential, generating large populations in a very short amount of time.

Thanks in part to their close association with humans, the Norway rat has moved on from its native Asia to colonize every continent on earth, except for Antarctica. Rats are extremely diverse feeders, these true omnivores can scavenge, hunt, forage and steal meals from a variety of sources.

Bayonne Rodent Control – Quick Tips

Here’s a few handy tips to keep invading mice out of your home or apartment:

  1. rx Helvetica, remedy Arial, ‘Nimbus Sans L’, sans-serif; font-style: normal;”>Make sure doors fit snugly and close fully.
  2. Window screens should be intact, without tears and close properly
  3. Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home, especially where utility lines, pipes or cables enter
  4. Make sure dryer and stove vents are properly screened
  5. Keep shrubbery and grass regularly trimmed and in good order
  6. Garages and sheds should be neat and free of clutter as these types of structures are stepping stones into our homes.

New Jersey Fall Pest Invaders – The House Mouse

The house mouse is one of the most troublesome and costly rodents in the United States.

House mice are found in and around homes and commercial structures. As temperatures begin to drop, cialis house mice move indoors and consume and contaminate food meant for people and pets. What’s more, store they can cause considerable damage to structures and in some cases start fires by chewing through wires.

Because house mice are so small, discount they can gain entry into homes and other buildings much more easily than rats.

Effective control involves sanitation, exclusion, and population reduction. Sanitation and exclusion are preventive measures. When a mouse infestation already exists, some form of population reduction such as trapping or baiting is almost always necessary.

If you suspect you have a mouse problem – Call on the experts at Bayonne Exterminating to solve your problem. Request a FREE Estimate to solve your mouse problem today


Help! My Dog Just Ate Rodent Poison!!

It’s a common question and we’ve heard it time and again, sale both with professional bait placements but more often with over the counter baits that are placed by homeowners.  Another question in a very similar vein is “What do I do if my dog (or cat) eats a poisoned mouse?” Lets take a look at the different ways our pets and other non-target animals come in contact with rodenticide.

The first and most common way in which a pet or other non-target animal will ingest pesticide is accidental bait consumption, or more accurately phrased, accidental bait placement.  Despite flavoring agents (like Bitrex) that manufacturers put into rodent baits to repel non-target animals and children, occasionally one of our pets will come into contact with and consume rodent bait.   A common approach to avoid this issue is with proper placement into areas that pets cannot access, like wall voids or areas of the structure that are off limits to pets.  It’s a good first start but cannot be relied upon as a standalone measure.  All too often a locked door is left open, allowing pets to move into an area they are not allowed into normally.  Rodents have also been known to take bait from one place and move it to another, less secure location, an activity known as “translocation”.

The Protecta Evo bait station by Bell Laboratories

A more secure bait placement would be to place the bait in a tamperproof bait station that is secured with a special key.  It is important to note that the bait is secured within the station, so that even if the station is moved or shaken about, the bait will remain inside the station.  Different stations will be different sizes and construction styles but are usually made of a hard plastic and a locking lid.  While using secure stations is the first step in safety, it is not a fail safe method. For instance, some dogs can chew through very hard plastic if given enough time, leading to bait exposure, as well as possible ingestion of plastic fragments.

Even if all of your baits are placed securely in stations or well away from pets, exposure is still a hazard, but this secondary exposure usually requires a pest rodent to act as a carrier or intermediary.  If a rodent consumes bait and is either killed by the bait or has undigested bait in its system, any animal that feeds upon the rodent will expose itself to the bait.  This is known in the industry as Secondary Poisoning.

It is very important to note that for the overwhelming majority of cases that a single exposure to rodenticide by a pet or other non-target will have very limited if any negative side effects.  The real secret to poison is in the dose, and very different doses are required to kill a 2 lb. rat and a 25lb dog, a bit of quick math will show us that the dog should need to eat about ten times as much bait as the rat to receive a lethal dose.

To enter the real danger zone, our pet needs to feed on an abundance of bait or bait stations, or consume multiple poisoned rodents over a relatively short amount of time.   The majority of rodenticides used in modern pest control are designed to limit the effects of accidental exposure and secondary poisoning.  One method is to use slow acting poisons that have a ready antidote to limit both initial exposure and offer a rescue option for any animal that over consumes.   Between the difference in animal sizes (rodent vs. pet), the multiple feeding requirements, proper placement and station use, the overwhelming majority of pets receiving accidental exposure will not even need the antidote to the toxin as there are several layers of precaution in place already.

To sum up, keeping your pets safe begins with the pet owner.  If placing baits yourself, make sure you’re using a proper station and not allowing your pet unfettered or unlimited access to it.  Make sure any company you hire is using proper baiting procedures whenever children or pets are present in a home.  Advise your Pest Control Operator as to your pet’s temperament and habits, if Fido chews up the kitchen floor, I’m guessing a plastic station isn’t going to slow him down much.

If your pet is exposed to pesticide or pesticide affected rodents, first and most importantly, remain calm!!  Try and find out as much about the exposure as you can: how many rodents or bait stations your pet may have come in contact with, what kind of bait is it and do you have a label, all very important questions that need to be answered.  Chewing on something like a bait station is a far cry from opening it and consuming al the bait inside.  Remember the size comparison; if you catch your pet mastiff playing with a dead mouse his exposure will be almost nothing even if he eats the whole mouse.

Lastly and most importantly, if you are reasonably sure your pet has consumed bait or a pesticide affected rodent, its best to go to the Veterinarian and play it safe.  The vet will have access to the proper antidote and will be able to support your pet through any exposure related health issues the animal may experience.   Sometimes the biggest issue in exposure isn’t even the chemical itself, rodents can carry many types of diseases or pathogens in and on their systems and plastic chunks from a partially consumed bait station can do more damage to your pet’s digestive system than even a moderate to large pesticide exposure.

August’s Invading Pests: Fleas

The Cat Flea

Summer may be coming to an end, buy viagra but some of New Jersey’s more noxious pests are just starting their boom season.  The mid-summer heat and humidity have been working hard to produce favorable conditions for all insect pests, but some benefit more than others from the conditions.  For years pet owners and pest control professionals have seen flea activity climb throughout the summer and peak in late July and early August.  Let’s take a quick look at these parasitic insects.

The Cat Flea (Ctenocephalides felis.) is the largest single representative member of the  fleas that become pests.  Fleas thrive in areas of poor sanitation and living conditions, they are highly mobile and quickly reproduce and can find its way indoors in very short order even in homes without pets.  It’s important to note that, to an extent, flea activity on outdoor pets is inevitable, keeping them from invading your home is key.  Once the life cycle of the flea begins in earnest indoors, it can be a difficult and time consuming task to eradicate them from the structure.

All fleas are from a highly specialized and specifically adapted insect family called Siphonaptera).  As with many other highly evolved insects, fleas undergo complete metamorphosis (Also known as Holometabolism) to fulfill their development from egg to adult.   After the egg hatches, the flea larvae that emerge are tiny, wormlike and look nothing like adult fleas.   The flea larvae will stay in dark and moist areas as it feeds and get ready to pupate.  Pupation is an inactive phase of development where the insect will stay within a cocoon like structure and begin its final transformation into the adult insect.  Other insects that undergo complete metabolism are quite familiar to us; insects like butterflies, moths, beetles, mosquitoes and dragonflies all share this developmental process.  This amazing growth process allows adults and immature insects of the same species to utilize more resources during their lifetimes without competing with each other.  Another byproduct of complete metabolism is that in most species of insect, and especially the flea, the pupae or cocoon is extremely durable, able to withstand both temperature changes and chemical applications.

Scanning Electron Microscopy of a Cat Flea

Once the adult flea emerges from the pupae, it is fully grown and now has the unmistakable flea body shape, flattened from side to side with large legs perfect for jumping, anywhere from 1 to 3 feet depending on species.  To look closer, with an electron microscope as in the photos below, we see a strange and alien form, a very complex insect with an unfamiliar shape.

Flea biology, as well as its pest status, tend to revolve around furry mammals, both pets and wildlife, but fleas can feed on humans and birds as well.  Ideally, adult fleas look to infest an animal, hiding comfortably in their fur until population levels become too high to be sustained.  Once population levels reach a certain point, or if the animal is removed from the area or dies, fleas will seek out an alternate host, sometimes biting humans in the process.   While fleas have no problem biting humans, they cannot infest a human like they would an animal due to human’s relatively hairless bodies.  Fleas are not known to infest either head or body hair on humans for an extended period of time.

While fleas have been known to transmit different types of diseases, their access to viral reservoirs (animals that are carriers of a certain disease) in the New Jersey Area is somewhat limited.  While fleas have been known to transmit Plague and Typhus, the conditions required to transmit those diseases are absent in our area and occurrences are rare if ever.   The most common vector transmitted by fleas in our area is the Dog Tapeworm.  Tapeworms can and do attack humans but infection is rare and easily dealt with through proper medical treatment.

Click here to download a free copy of our eBook click here (there’s some great info about Tick Prevention too!)

To find out how we can help you with your flea issues, click here!

Lyme Disease in New Jersey

A black-legged tick, remedy a.k.a. “Deer Tick”.

Lyme disease is an infectious and debilitating disease that was first identified in New Jersey in 1981.  From 1990-2012 approximately 56, treat 000 cases of Lyme Disease have been reported in New Jersey alone and approximately 90% of Lyme Disease cases  originate from 13 Northeastern states.

For more information on the spread of Lyme Disease See the CDC’s interactive map here)

Lyme disease is caused by the spirochete (microorganism) Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto and is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected Blacklegged Tick, medical also known as a Deer Tick, Ixodes scapularis. Approximately half of adult Blacklegged Ticks can harbor this disease and up to a quarter of immature ticks.  Although Lyme Disease is transmitted by ticks, the disease does not affect them.  Lyme Disease tends to build up in populations of Eastern Chipmunks and White-footed Mice, from there the disease can be spread to deer, humans and other larger mammals.  Infected humans cannot spread the disease to other humans, instead a tick is required to transmit the disease.

The dreaded Bulls-eye rash

Humans who have been bitten by an infected tick may not exhibit symptoms immediately, often the first outward symptom will be a large rash with a clear center, sometimes referred to as a “bull’s-eye” rash, anywhere from 3 to 30 days after the bite itself. Between 20%-30% of infected humans will show no sign of this rash. Other early symptoms may include extreme fatigue, headache, and nausea.  If left untreated, the disease can attack the heart, joints and central nervous system, causing severe and debilitating pain.  Approximately 10%-15% of affected patients will develop severe and immediate neurological symptoms including facial palsy, meningitis or encephalitis.

If you find a tick, it is very important to remove the tick immediately.  It’s best to use a pair of tweezers and gripping the head of the tick, remove the tick by pulling slowly, making sure you don’t crush the tick or tear it apart.  There are some companies like NJ Labs that offer a Lyme Disease test, click here for information about the test and the testing submission information. 

While tick testing is an excellent option, it should not replace proper medical attention.  Considering the infection timeline and the amount of time to obtain proper test results, it’s imperative to see a doctor immediately if you have any suspicion that the tick you’ve been bitten by is a Black-legged Tick.

Reducing your exposure to ticks is the only way to prevent Lyme Disease.  Always use insect repellent and wear long pants when camping, hiking or in other woodland areas.  Ticks favor areas with tall grass and leaf-litter, its best to avoid these areas if possible.  Keep your backyard well maintained, free of leaf litter and with a properly cut lawn with trimmed edges.  If you have pets, a proper flea and tick treatment is strongly advised.

Read more about Lyme Disease here.

For more information on Flea and Tick prevention, download our free eBook!

If you’d like more information on Bayonne Exterminating’s Flea and Tick Control Program click here for a free estimate.


First Domestic Case of Chikungunya Virus Confirmed


Aedes Aegypti or Yellow Fever Mosquito

For years the American public has been relatively unaffected by mosquito borne diseases, capsule partly due to the mild American climate as well as a limited number of pathogens and viable vector in the environment.  Unfortunately, prostate that has now changed, online maybe for good.

Most mosquito related diseases like Dengue fever and Yellow fever are limited to tropical areas with very limited dispersion on the North American continent.  The most significant mosquito related disease in the US, malaria, is now relegated to history books as huge public works projects, area wide mosquito control efforts and enormous amounts of public education have eliminated mosquito habitat and populations throughout the country.

Occasionally, smaller localized outbreaks of mosquito borne diseases like Eastern Equine Encephalitis will crop up and plague a small area.  Although of limited interest to the average person, the mosquito’s ability to spread diseases like tapeworm and encephalitis to animals is still a threat to farming communities or pets and pet owners.  These diseases have been limited in distribution and specific in scope, attacking small areas or groups of animals in recent years.  Unfortunately, that is about to change….


Chickungunya Checklist

In previous blogs we’ve discussed a new mosquito borne illness known as Chikungunya (pronounced “Chicken-gun-yah”) and it potential to go from an occasional imported disease to an established pathogen on the US mainland.  According to the CDC, the first case of domestically acquired Chikungunya was reported and confirmed on July 17th of this year in Florida.   Although almost 250 cases of Chikungunya have been reported in the US since 2006 all of these previous cases have been contracted by people traveling abroad before retuning hoe to the US.   In the July 17th case, the victim had not traveled abroad and transmission of the virus was confirmed as a local source.

Chikungunya is a complex disease that while not fatal, can cause severe pain and debilitation.  Subjects infected with the Chikungunya virus will exhibit a high fever and a significant amount of joint and body pain.  Other symptoms include, but are not limited to, headaches, joint swelling and rashes.  At this time there is no known vaccine for Chikungunya and although treatment does exist, affected individuals can suffer from symptoms for up to two years after initial exposure.  It is interesting to note that the Chikungunya virus cannot be spread directly from person to person, the virus requires distribution via mosquitoes like the Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes albopictus) and the Yellow Fever Mosquito (Aedes aegypti).

While New Jersey residents need not be immediately concerned they should be aware of the presence of Chikungunya both in the US as well as any potential vacation destinations.  A trip to Key West or the Caribbean would put the average vacationer in areas prone to harbor Chikungunya and other diseases.  It’s also worth noting that the Asian Tiger Mosquito has recently moved into New Jersey and has the potential to transmit Chikungunya and other mosquito related diseases to residents of the Garden State.

You can see the CDC’s original press release here

For your FREE copy of our new eBook “Practical Solutions for Reducing Mosquitoes in Your North Jersey Yard” click here!!

If you’d like to see what Bayonne Exterminating can do to reduce mosquito populations around your home, click here for a free estimate.


New Jersey’s Newest Invading Parasite: the Asian Tiger Mosquito

The distribution of the Asian Tiger Mosquito in the US

Residents of New Jersey are no stranger to insect bites, order approximately 60 different species of mosquitoes call the Garden State home, pills along with several different species of biting flies.  It may sound like we’re the main course on the blood-feeders buffet but it’s not as bad as it sounds.  Only a handful of mosquitoes in and around our area are constant pests of humans, many mosquitoes feed almost exclusively on one type of host or another.  Birds and other mammals, both small and large, can be attacked by mosquitoes, not just humans.  Due to their behavior and biology certain species of mosquitoes, like the Black-Tailed Mosquito (Culiseta melanura), feed almost exclusively on birds.

Mosquitoes native to New Jersey have another behavioral trait that offers some relief: most mosquitoes only bite during the dawn and dusk and are not active through the middle of the day.  Small behavioral and biological facets like this have defined New Jersey’s relationship with it’s tiny flying blood-feeders, but unfortunately, all that is about to change.

Meet the Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes albopictus), our newest import into the increasingly diverse group of non-native or invading insects.  Like other recent imported pests, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, the Asian Longhorned Beetle and the Multi-colored Asian Ladybird Beetle, the Asian Tiger Mosquito hails from South East Asia and has been imported into the US within the last 20 years due to imported vegetation and high speed global transit. .

Read more about how invasive pests make their way to the US.

Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus

The most immediately apparent difference between the Asian Tiger and our native mosquitoes is the striking black and white alternating pattern, easily visible even at this small size.  Adults range in size from 2-10mm in length, depending on the quality of nutrition available to them as larvae.  Males and females also look fairly similar, with the largest difference being the male’s bushier and almost fuzzy antennae.

Asian Tiger Mosquitoes have a developmental biology not wholly unlike its native cousin the House Mosquito (Culex pipens).  They have comparable tolerances for heat and cold and both require stagnant fresh water in which to lay their eggs and begin development.  Since stagnant fresh water is very easy to find in close proximity to humans, (think birdbaths, flowerpots, bottoms of garbage cans, etc.) these insects feed quite frequently on humans and will complete their entire lifecycle in very close proximity to humans.

There are, however, two marked differences between the Asian Tiger Mosquito and its local cousins: one is host or target preference, the other being daily activity cycles.

Asian Tiger Mosquitoes are voracious feeders and are not specific to a single host or host type.  Tiger Mosquitoes have no problem feeding on birds, humans or other mammals, both small and large over the course of their lives.    Another odd feeding behavior the Asian Tiger Mosquito exhibits is incomplete feeding.  Not all Asian Tiger Mosquitoes get a full blood meal at every feeding, requiring a second trip for the required nutrition.  Since these mosquitoes don’t always “go right back for seconds” they’ll feed on a different host if not a different type of host altogether.

These two behaviors cause the Asian Tiger Mosquito to be a rather significant vector of viruses and other pathogens.  Oftentimes groups of animals will harbor a virus or pathogen without showing symptoms, like the West Nile Virus or encephalitis in birds. The feeding behavior for the Asian Tiger mosquito results in multiple feedings from multiple hosts and host types during their lifetimes, significantly increasing their chances of passing on an infection like the Yellow fever virus, dengue fever and Chikungunya fever.

Now that we’ve established the Asian Tiger Mosquito is a diverse feeder the second part of its feeding behavior can be discussed.  Unlike most other mosquitoes, the Asian Tiger Mosquito is active from dawn till dusk and throughout the intervening day.  Since these mosquitoes have the unique feeding behavior we discussed above, along with being active for almost 18 hours a day, we can see how this tiny parasite can develop into an important pest for New Jersey residents.

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