Are You Getting Ankle Bites? It's Not From Regular Mosquitoes, They're Rare

Ouch… No, scratch that. Not all of the many, many mosquito bites you’ve suffered this summer – those bites that, weirdly, are mostly around your ankles – are super painful. But they are itchy. And they’re potentially bad news.

The ankle biters are invaders, varieties of a non-indigenous mosquito species – Aedes – that’s only recently arrived in Southern California. And these new-to-the-neighborhood bugs have the potential to carry a host of diseases that previously haven’t been common to the region.

Here’s what you should know about our new blood enemies:

What is Aedes?

Technically, two types of Aedes – both of which can be identified by black and gray spots and longish (for mosquitoes) tails – have been identified in big numbers in Southern California.

One, Aedes albopictus, commonly called the Asian tiger mosquito is, as the name suggests, from Asia. The other, Aedes aegyptai, is believed to be from South America and goes by a scary common name – the yellow fever mosquito. One or both versions of Aedes have been reported in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

The Asian Tiger initially popped up in Southern California in the early 2000s, was briefly driven away, and returned to stay in 2011, according to published reports. The South American invader has been here for about five years, but vector control agencies in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino have seen populations grow quickly in the past two years.

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