California Faces an Invasive Vector. Here’s What You Should Know.

You may have seen the frantic posts about them on Nextdoor. Perhaps you’ve stopped using your backyard because they’re eating you alive. Maybe they nearly ruined your Labor Day.

We’re talking about the Aedes aegypti or “ankle biter,” an undersized but relentless species of mosquito that can transmit a range of diseases from dengue fever and chikungunya to the Zika virus.

Counties across the state are dealing with an explosion in these insects. Orange County officials say they’ve been reported in 29 of their cities. The Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District found Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in Citrus Heights last week. They’ve been discovered in PlacerStanislaus, ModestoSan Joaquin, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Tulare, Kern, Merced, and all over L.A. County.

What makes these mosquitoes so worrisome isn’t just their ability to transmit serious disease, but also their level of aggression. This mosquito bites during the day. They can make their homes indoors. Even pets aren’t safe, as the Aedes has been known to transmit heartworm to dogs.

Experts say California’s mosquito problem is getting worse. You can blame the warmer temperatures for that.

What can you do to keep yourself safe? You’re probably already aware that standing water is a mosquito’s Disneyland. Once you’ve emptied out the kids’ wading pool, check for any hidden sources of moisture you may be missing. Fill holes that could become filled with water, check damp indoor plants, keep doors closed and window screens in good condition, wear long sleeves and pants when possible and DEET and/or eucalyptus oil on exposed areas of the skin only.

Learn more about California’s mosquito problem at NBC Los Angeles and read the fact sheet from the CDC