Culiseta melanura, also known as the black-tailed mosquito, is a common mosquito pest throughout Massachusetts and the east coast in general. Unfortunately, it is also the primary vector of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), which has become a growing problem for residents of Massachusetts in the last year or so. This has made controlling their population and protecting residents from their bite more important than ever right now.
The black-tailed mosquito can live in a wide variety of habitats, giving them plenty of habitats throughout the country in which they can breed and annoy humans. While they can sometimes live in more rural areas with swampy wetlands, they are just as comfortable breeding in small containers of stagnant water such as old tires, empty garbage cans, and any kind of container that has even a small amount of water left outside human homes. This species is unique in that it overwinters as a larva instead of in its adult form. The amount of time it takes for them to develop into adults is entirely dependent on the temperatures. If eggs are laid late in the summer, the larva will simply develop much more slowly and emerge as adults in the spring after the weather warms up. This is a pretty big help when it comes to survival and reproduction, as this means eggs laid by a female mosquito have a much higher chance of reaching adulthood and producing even more black-tailed mosquitoes for humans to deal with.
Black-tailed mosquitoes pose a major health threat to humans. Because they mostly take their blood meals from wild birds, the ringed pheasant being the most important one in the U.S., they can pick up the disease Eastern Equine Encephalitis from this meal when that bird happens to also be infected. When they next take their blood meal from humans, they can then transmit the disease to that human host. This makes them a primary enzootic vector of EEE, with birds acting as the amplification hosts. While other mosquito species also spread EEE, experts believe that if the C. melanura mosquito species was out of the picture, the number of humans infected with the disease would greatly decrease. This is definitely the mosquito you most want to avoid this summer.
Do you feel like using bug repellent adequately protects you from mosquito bites?