As Thursday marks the first official day of fall, people are starting to put away their bikinis and their lounge chairs until summer returns next year. But does the start of colder weather and a new season mean that bug spray will be among those items locked up in storage for the next few months? While Zika posed a threat for travelers and lovers of warm weather in the summer, many are wondering if it poses the same threat in the winter. Most importantly, does snow kill zika mosquitos and do they still pose a risk in the wintertime?
There have been over 3,000 reported cases of Zika in the United States currently, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only 43 of those cases have been caught locally, or from a mosquito bite acquired in the United States. But just because the number of Zika cases caught from mosquitos is relatively low doesn't mean that Zika mosquitos still don't pose a threat.
The Zika mosquito, or the aedes Aegypti mosquito, is known for having resilient eggs and prefers to feed on people rather than animals. According to the CDC, these mosquitos live and thrive in "tropical, subtropical, and temperate environments." The Weather Channel has reported that, the warmer the weather gets, the faster Zika mosquitos are able to transport the virus. For those who crave scarf season and colder months, it is a relief to know that Zika mosquitos will likely slow their siege as the temperature plummets. But how do Zika mosquitos handle the snow? Will it kill them off for good?
Typically, most mosquitos cannot survive colder temperatures and climates, including the aedes aegypti mosquito. This is further illustrated in a map published by the CDC this summer, listing all of the areas of the United States where Zika mosquitos have been reported in the past 21 years. The map shows that states with snow or colder climates, like those in the midwest or northwest are not likely home to the Zika mosquito. According to National Geographic, Zika mosquitos can't survive winters north of Alabama and South Carolina.
But while snow does kill Zika mosquitos — but there is one tiny exception: According to Bloomberg News, aedes aegypti mosquitos can transmit Zika to their eggs and the eggs themselves can survive the winter and snow. So while people have less of a chance of getting bit by a Zika mosquito in the snow, the eggs can still linger and hatch again in the spring.
Those living in states that experience snow or colder weather should be relieved to know that they can put the bug spray away for the colder months— at least, until the weather becomes warm again.