At least 61 different species of mosquitoes exist in South Carolina. The two-winged insects - whose name means "little fly" - are closely related to flies like gnats and no-see-ums.
Mosquitoes are a pest that can cause itchy bites, but they can also cause more serious health issues like spreading diseases. The most common diseases that could potentially be carried by mosquitoes in South Carolina include: West Nile, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, La Crosse encephalitis, Saint Louis encephalitis virus, and dog/cat heartworm.
DHEC works in partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor mosquito populations for diseases that can be spread to humans. The agency also provides information to help individuals and communities take action to reduce mosquito populations in their area and prevent bites.
Mosquito control programs are managed at the local community level. Click here to find a listing of local mosquito control programs. In light of the 2015 flood, DHEC has been urging local governments to review, update or create local ordinances designed to help their mosquito control programs reduce or treat standing water that can provide breeding sites for mosquitoes.
Protect Yourself from Mosquito Bites
- Reduce the numbers of adult mosquitoes around your home.
- Drain, fill, or eliminate sites that have standing water.
- Empty or throw away containers that have standing water.
- Keep mosquitoes outside: Use air conditioning or make sure that you repair and use window/door screens.
- Avoid Mosquitoes: Most mosquito species bite during dawn, dusk, twilight hours, and night. Some species bite during the day, especially in wooded or other shaded areas. Avoid exposure during these times and in these areas.
- Wear insect repellent: Yes! It is safe. When used as directed, insect repellent is the BEST way to protect yourself from mosquito bites - even children and pregnant women should protect themselves.
- DEET: Products containing DEET include Cutter, OFF!, Skintastic.
- Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin): Products containing picaridin include Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus, and Autan outside the United States).
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD: Repel contains OLE.
- IR3535: Products containing IR3535 include Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition and SkinSmart.
- More repellent information
- Cover up: When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.
- Click here to learn more about protecting yourself and your home from mosquitoes.
Mosquito Survey Underway – Mapping the Presence and Abundance of Certain Container-Breeding Mosquitoes
You may see a little black cup in your neighborhood that states “Mosquito Survey Underway.” These cups are part of a special DHEC project to map mosquito species that have the capability to transmit Zika virus.
Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquito. Although Zika virus has not been detected in any South Carolina mosquitoes, we are conducting a special project to collect data on the presence and abundance of these two types of mosquitoes in our state. The biology and behavior of Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus are different from mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus, and therefore, the tools used for monitoring these two species are different.
Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus live in close association with people and are “container-breeding mosquitoes.” They reproduce in numerous types of water-holding containers such as buckets, pet water bowls, plastic containers, discarded tires, rain gutters, tarps, bird baths, lawn ornaments, outdoor toys, and other items often found around human dwellings. These species do not live in ditches, marshes, or other large bodies of water.
To map the presence of these two species, egg-laying traps called ovitraps will be deployed around the state. An ovitrap is a device that consists of a dark container that holds water and a specialized paper where mosquitoes can lay their eggs. Ovitraps mimic the preferred breeding sites for Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus.
Eggs will be collected and reared to adult mosquitoes at the SC DHEC laboratory in Columbia. The adult mosquitoes will be identified, and locations where they were collected will be mapped. The data will then be used to identify areas that may be of higher risk for diseases caused by mosquito-borne viruses like Zika, chikungunya, and dengue.
If you see a little black container in your neighborhood that states “Mosquito Survey Underway,” please don’t disturb the trap.