While most states located on the northeast coast see around 50 mosquitoes each year, the state of New York sees a whopping 70 species. Nearly all of these mosquitoes are a nuisance to residents in the state, but several also spread multiple diseases to humans, some of which can be fatal. Surprisingly, one mosquito species, culex pipiens, survives upstate New York winters by entering homes and buildings, where they are known for biting humans while they sleep. In fact, this species, which is more commonly known as the northern house mosquito, is one of the three Culex mosquito species that is categorized as a primary vector for the west Nile virus, but the species carries other diseases too.
If anybody tells you that mosquitoes in upstate New York cannot spread disease, then they are wrong, or not telling the truth. According to the New York State Health Department, 2018 saw three human cases of west Nile in Nassau, Westchester and Monroe Counties, bringing the state’s total number of west Nile cases up to seven, and these are only the documented cases. 2018 marked the first time in recorded history that the west Nile virus occurred in upstate New York. These cases came as a shock to many public health officials who did not consider the west Nile virus a threat to residents of upstate New York. These disease cases likely occurred due to a warming northern climate that is creating more hospitable conditions for mosquitoes in the region.
Unfortunately, the northern house mosquito, which is active all year round in upstate New York, carries three diseases that can infect humans. These diseases are: the west Nile virus, St. Louis encephalitis and Western Equine encephalitis. This species is also known for spreading heartworm to dogs, and they are common in backyards during the summer. This species can be recognized for its brown wings and grey body that is medium in size.
Have you ever spotted mosquitoes in your home during the winter months?