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Will tiger mosquitoes take a bite out of Vermont? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Will tiger mosquitoes take a bite out of Vermont?

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RICHMOND, Vt. -

The Aedes albopictus is nicknamed "tiger mosquito" because of its striped black and white legs, and it loves to swarm humans, looking for blood. Are these aggressive eaters in Vermont, too?

"So, we are probably at this point not expecting to see it, although it is possible that it may show up in Vermont. But I don't think it will winter over successfully anywhere," Vt. State Entomologist Alan Graham said.

And Graham should know; he looks at a lot of mosquitoes as part of his job.

"Different mosquitoes do different things; they feed on different hosts, some are more aggressive than others," he explained.

And there are plenty of types of mosquitoes to look at. There are 45 different species of mosquitoes that can be found in Vermont, including one kind with eggs that can lay dormant for seven years. They hatched again after Tropical Storm Irene.

But one species that Graham is looking very closely at is the one that feeds primarily on birds, because they can pass the deadly Eastern equine encephalitis or EEE on to humans through their bite.

"We monitor that species because we can look at the virus in the bird population-- it's called a viremia in the bird population-- and detect that Triple-E is circulating within the bird population, and if we detect that would give us some prediction of risk," Graham said.

Two people in Vermont died from EEE last summer after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

"We don't know a lot about this virus," Graham said. "It's pretty rare. The tragedy is that one mosquito bite can be lethal and that makes it very scary."

Graham says the best way to avoid being bitten is to wear pants and long sleeves when you head outdoors at dusk or at night and use a bug spray with DEET.

The state is also asking folks in the EEE-infected area last year near Brandon to fill out surveys as a way to help track cases of EEE.

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