Tiger mosquito bite

Dear Alice,

I felt a stinging above my eye and when I looked there a tiger mosquito was actually sucking the blood from my forehead. Should I go to a doctor or wait and see what happen? I kept the mosquito but don't know how long before it deteriorates. I washed my forehead with peroxide and then put Neosporin on it. I never had the blood sucked out while I was being bitten. Will my blood be infected? Help

Dear Reader,

Though the name might sound threatening, research indicates that the risk of contracting a disease from a tiger mosquito, or an Aedes (Ae.) albopictus, is low. While the tiger mosquito may carry up to 30 different viruses, few of them are transmissible to humans. More common mosquitoes, such as the similar Aedes aegypti, as well as mosquitoes from the Culex and Anopheles species are more likely to spread disease. If you’re in an area currently experiencing an epidemic of arbovirus (arthropod-borne virus) infections, such as dengue, West Nile virus, yellow fever, zika, or chikungunya fever, you're at greater risk for infection. Otherwise, continue to monitor your health and if you start experiencing fever-like symptoms, visit a medical provider immediately.

Mosquitoes have a reputation for causing the spread of disease. They do so by taking the blood from one person or animal that may contain a virus and passing this virus along to the next person or animal they bite. The ability of a mosquito to spread disease is dependent on many factors including the environmental conditions, such as the temperature, as well as the type and concentration of the virus passed along. Outbreaks occur when a mosquito lives long enough for the virus to multiply and for the mosquito to then bite another person, making younger mosquitoes less likely to spread disease. If you're in an area that happens to have an infestation of tiger mosquitoes or another species of mosquitoes, there are some actions to consider in order to keep these annoying (and persistent!) little bugs away from you:

  • Remove standing water: Tiger mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water and they don’t usually travel very far from where they're born. If you remove standing water containers such as buckets, cans, flower vases, bird baths, clogged rain gutters, and used tire casings, the number of mosquitoes in the area is likely to go down.
  • Insecticides: Spraying insecticides may be an effective way of reducing the local tiger mosquito population. Experts suggest spraying in early evening or early morning.
  • Repellants: Insect repellants with DEET can keep mosquitoes (including Ae. albopictus) away during the day when they're out and biting. Oil of lemon eucalyptus is a natural repellant option. For clothing, consider treating or purchasing items pre-treated with permethrin.
  • Cover up: Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants leaves less skin exposed, making you less vulnerable to a mosquito bite.
  • Stay inside: Windows and door screens keep mosquitoes outside and yourself inside. Cold air from air conditioning also helps deter mosquitoes.

Before you dispose of that mosquito, you may want to confirm that you were, in fact, bit by a tiger mosquito. These mosquitoes have bright white or silver stripes, hence the nickname tiger mosquito. They spend most of their time flying close to the ground making the ankles, knees, and lower legs their favorite targets. Unlike more common mosquitoes, tiger mosquitoes rarely bite at night. Instead, they prefer the daytime, especially the early morning and later afternoon. Because of their life cycle, which relies on rising waters for their eggs to hatch, adult tiger mosquitoes are most likely to be seen from May through October.

While there's a good chance tiger mosquito bite won't make you sick, you'll likely experience some itchiness for a few days after being bit. This itchiness is perfectly normal. You may want to avoid scratching, however, because scratching could cause your bite to become infected. To ease the itching sensation:

  • Use a cool or warm compress to the affected area for short periods at a time.
  • Take an over-the-counter antihistamine medication.
  • Apply an anti-itch lotion.

These steps may reduce the irritation from the mosquito bite so that it can heal without further irritation or infection. 

Here’s to no more mosquito bites,

Last updated Aug 05, 2022
Originally published Apr 15, 2013

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