Mosquito bites are annoying at best, and downright dangerous at worst. They carry diseases such as West Nile virus, dengue fever, yellow fever, malaria, and Zika. The good news is that they don’t live long enough to transmit these diseases.
Hawaii has some of the highest rates of mosquito-borne disease in the United States. In fact, Hawaii ranks third nationally for the number of reported cases of West Nile Virus infection.
“Hawaiian mosquitoes are known to bite humans,” says Dr. Susan Morse, director of the University of Hawaii Institute for Plant Protection. “They are also very aggressive.”
Are There Mosquitoes In Hawaii?
Yes! And there are a lot of them.
In fact, according to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), Hawaii has more than 1 million adult Aedes mosquitoes per square mile. That’s about four times higher than the national average of 250,000.
The NPMA reports that the most common species found in Hawaii are:
•Aedes albopictus – This Asian tiger mosquito can be found throughout the islands. It prefers warm weather and feeds on people and animals.
•Aedes polynesiensis – Also called the brown dog day mosquito, this species breeds in pools of water and feeds on birds, reptiles and mammals.
•Culex quinquefasciatus – This tropical house mosquito is native to parts of Asia and Africa. It lives near bodies of standing water and feeds on both plants and animals.
What Problems Do Mosquitoes In Hawaii Cause?
Mosquitoes are an annoyance because they bite, but they’re not usually harmful. However, when you get bitten by one of these bloodthirsty insects, it could mean trouble.
West Nile Virus
This virus was first detected in New York City in 1999. Since then, it has spread across North America and Europe.
It causes flu-like symptoms including headache, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and rash. But if left untreated, it can lead to death.
There have been no confirmed cases of West Nile virus in Hawaii since 2003. Still, the state health department recommends that residents take precautions against the disease. These include wearing insect repellent with DEET or picaridin; using screens on windows and doors; and keeping garbage cans tightly covered.
Dengue fever is caused by any of four different viruses transmitted by mosquitoes. Symptoms include high fever, severe headaches, joint pain, and eye pain. If you contract dengue fever, your doctor may prescribe medication to reduce the inflammation associated with the illness.
This viral disease is transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitos. The symptoms include high fever, chills, abdominal pain, jaundice, bleeding from the nose and mouth, and sometimes death.
Malaria is caused by parasites carried by female Anopheles mosquitoes. The parasites enter the body through the bite wound. Malaria symptoms include high fevers, chills, weakness, fatigue, and headaches.
Zika is another mosquito-borne disease. It’s similar to dengue fever but is much less common. Symptoms include mild fever, rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle pain, and red eyes.
Mosquito bites can cause other diseases as well. For example, Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks. Other illnesses that can be transmitted via mosquito bites include encephalitis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and St. Louis encephalitis.
When Are Mosquitoes Active In Hawaii?
Hawaii experiences two seasons: rainy season and dry season. During the rainy season, which lasts from May to October, there are more mosquitoes around. They breed in puddles, stagnant rainwater, and small ponds. Because of their breeding habits, mosquitoes tend to congregate in areas where humans live and work.
During the dry season, which runs from November to April, mosquitoes aren’t as active. Most people don’t see them until after the rainy season ends in early June.
How Can I Prevent Mosquito Bites?
You can prevent mosquito bites by taking some simple steps. Here are a few tips for preventing them:
• Use Insect Repellents
Use insect repellent containing at least 30 percent DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, IR3535, or para-menthane-diol (PMD). Apply it to exposed skin 15 minutes before going outside. Repeat application every two hours while outdoors.
• Wear Long Clothing
Wear long pants, shirts, socks, and shoes. Tuck pant legs into boots. Keep hair out of face and ears.
• Stay Out Of Puddles And Water
Avoid swimming or wading in puddles or standing next to water containers. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water.
• Cover Garbage Cans
Keep trash cans tightly closed. Mosquitoes need a moist environment to breed.
• Clean House Often
Clean up areas where mosquitoes congregate such as gutters, flower pots, buckets, and birdbaths.
• Don’t Leave Pets Outside Alone
If you leave pets alone in an enclosed area, they could attract mosquitoes.
• Avoid Outdoor Activities During Dusk Or Dawn
When mosquitoes are most active, avoid outdoor activities during dusk and dawn.
• Be Alert To Signs Of Disease
If you notice signs of disease, see your doctor immediately.
What Are The Signs of a Mosquito Bite?
The first sign of a mosquito bite is usually itching. This may occur within 10 minutes of being bitten. Redness around the bite site may also appear. You may experience swelling and tenderness if the bite becomes infected.
Can A Mosquito Bite Cause Me Illness?
A mosquito bite does not always lead to infection. However, if you develop an allergy to mosquito saliva, you may have difficulty breathing when you breathe deeply. In addition, the bite itself can cause allergic reactions such as hives, rash, and swollen lymph nodes.
What Should I Do If I Get Bitten by a Mosquito?
If you get bitten by a mosquito, wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water. Then apply ice packs or cold compresses to help relieve discomfort. You should also seek medical attention if you develop flu-like symptoms within 24 hours after being bitten by a mosquito carrying malaria.
Are mosquitoes a problem in Hawaii?
Yes. There are many species of mosquitoes that can carry diseases. Some of these include:
• Anopheles albimanus – carries malaria
• Aegypti – transmits dengue fever
• Aedes aegypti – transmits yellow fever
• Culex quinquefasciatus -transmits West Nile virus
• Mansonia uniformis –carries encephalitis
• Ochlerotatus taeniorhynchus –carries St. Louis encephalitis
Do I need mosquito repellent in Hawaii?
Yes, especially if you plan on spending time outdoors. It’s recommended that you use products containing at least 20% DEET. Products containing less than this amount will only provide temporary protection from biting insects.
Do mosquitoes in hawaii carry disease?
Yes. Many types of mosquitoes carry diseases including:
• Dengue Fever
• Yellow Fever
• West Nile Virus
How do I know which type of mosquito bit me?
You can tell which kind of mosquito bit you by looking for blood spots. Female mosquitoes inject saliva into the skin when they feed. They then puncture the skin and suck out the blood. Blood spots are formed when blood clots form under the skin.
Hawaii has a variety of mosquitoes that can transmit diseases. Use insect repellents, wear long pants and shirts, and keep yourself covered to prevent bites.