Ankle-biter mosquitoes are on the attack in SoCal. What to know to avoid getting bitten

Rob McMillan Image
Wednesday, September 27, 2023
Sick of mosquito bites? Here are tips to avoid sneaky ankle biters
If it seems like mosquitoes are on the attack in Southern California - perhaps more so this year than in years past - that's because they are.

If it seems like mosquitoes are on the attack in Southern California, perhaps more so this year than in years past, that's because they are.

"When it comes to adult activity with ankle biters, this is the worst I've ever seen," said Danny Bui, who's been an inspector with the Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District for 20 years.

He said the problem this year is the record amount of rainfall, especially the rain that fell so late in the season.

"Hurricane Hilary really did a number (on us). Usually in August, everything is pretty hot and dry. But when we had that storm passed through, it created more breeding sources in people's yards, so that's attributing to the high abundance of ankle-biter mosquitoes."

Unlike mosquitoes that are native to Southern California, the ankle-biter mosquitoes do not prefer to hunt at dawn and dusk.

MORE: Are you a mosquito magnet? The science behind why you get bitten more often

It's mosquito season and if the bugs seem to like you more than others, there's a scientific reason behind it.

"These are daytime aggressive mosquitoes. They bite us during the day. And they prefer mammals and humans; while our native mosquitoes prefer birds, (ankle biters) prefer us," Bui said.

Bui said ankle biters originated in other parts of the world like southeast Asia, South America and Egypt. While they've been in parts of the United States for more than 50 years, they've only been detected in Southern California in the past eight to 10 years.

Bui said any source of standing water that has been untouched for more than a week can be a prime mosquito breeding area. This includes drains, buckets of water collected from rainfall and saucers that are kept beneath potted plants.

"When we see saucers, we encourage the homeowners not to use them, or just to water less frequently," Bui said. It's not just the obvious sources of standing water that you need to watch for. Even the water that collects at the bottom of a drain could be problematic.

According to Bui, mosquitoes tend to prefer shade rather than direct sunlight, and they don't like to just stay outside.

"They hover at the door; they wait at the eaves or on the walls because it's shady there, remember they like the shade. So they wait for you, and when you open the door, they'll swoop right in and make you miserable inside your own home," he said.

Bui also said it's true that mosquitoes attack some people more than others.

"People with O-positive seem to be bitten more often than other types of blood. But there are other factors besides blood. It could be the lactic acid, our body temperatures, how much we sweat, and how much CO-2 our body produces," he explained.

Bui said if you are outside it's best to wear long pants and long sleeves to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes, but he warns that mosquitoes can bite through tight-fitting clothing. He also said citronella candles and ultra-violet lights might not work as well as some companies advertise.

"With those UV lights and other trappers, mosquitoes aren't going to be attracted to that. So you'll catch a lot of other flying insects. But mosquitoes aren't going to fly into those so don't waste your money," he said.

Bui said the No. 1 thing residents can do is eliminate all sources of standing water around their homes.