The two mosquito species that are of the greatest concern to public health officials in the United States are Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. The diseases most commonly transmitted to humans by the A. Aegypti species include the Zika virus, Chikungunya, dengue fever and yellow fever. The diseases most commonly transmitted to humans by A. albopictus include all of the same diseases spread by the A. aegypti, and other Aedes species, but since A. aegypti feeds on the blood of humans, while A. albopictus feeds on the blood of both birds and humans, A. aegypti spreads disease to humans far more often than A. albopictus.

Populations of both A. aegypti and A. albopictus are largely concentrated in the southeast US, but they are also abundant in all southern states, with the exception of New Mexico. Both species are abundant in California, parts of the midwest, and as far northeast as Virginia, but A. albopictus is abundant in regions farther northeast than A. aegypti. Of these two species, A. albopictus can tolerate temperate North American climates, while A. aegypti cannot. Therefore, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Transmission, A. albopictus can be found in all northeast states with the exception of Maine, while A. aegypti is considered “very unlikely” to appear to appear in any northeast states.

Mosquitoes of the Culex genus, most notably the C. restuans and C. pipiens species, are considered the most significant threats to public health in the northeast. These two species spread both the West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis to humans in the northeastern states, while the A. albopictus species is a newcomer to Massachusetts and other northeastern states. Several other disease-carrying Aedes species can be found in Massachusetts and surrounding states, but these species maintain a rural habitat and are considered a relatively minor threat to residents of the northeast. Although, the A. aegypti species has not been found in the northeast, this species’ habitat is believed to be expanding. The CDC estimates that A. aegypti will soon spread to southeast New York and southwest Connecticut. According to Dr. Catherine Brown of the Cape Cod Mosquito Control Project, A. aegypti will likely inhabit the entirety of Massachusetts in the future. There are currently 12 mosquito species in Massachusetts that can spread disease to humans.

Do you expect the Zika virus to become an issue in Massachusetts in the future?