By Marc Lallanilla
Named for the black-and-white stripes on its body, the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) was first brought to Texas in a shipment of tires (which are notorious for holding the standing water that mosquitoes require for breeding), the Wall StreetJournal reports.
The bug is worrisome for several reasons: Unlike other mosquitoes, the aggressive Asian tiger bites all day long, from morning until night. It has a real bloodlust for humans, but also attacks dogs, cats, birds and other animals. [Sting, Bite, Destroy: Nature’s 10 Biggest Pests]
“Part of the reason it is called ‘tiger’ is also because it is very aggressive,” Dina Fonseca, associate professor of entomology at Rutgers University, told the Journal. “You can try and swat it all you want, but once it’s on you, it doesn’t let go.”
The Asian tiger mosquito joins other insects now threatening U.S. residents.Gallinippers (Psorophora ciliata), for example, are a type of shaggy-haired mosquito whose bite reportedly feels like being stabbed; they’re currently found throughout much of Florida.
But few insects are as effective at spreading illness as the Asian tiger mosquito. The pest transmits more than 20 diseases, according to the Cornell Chronicle, including West Nile fever, dengue fever, yellow fever and two types of encephalitis.