By now, you’ve probably heard more than you ever wanted to know about Zika, which can shrink the head of your unborn child if the mother is bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus while she’s pregnant. It’s already in Arkansas and epidemiologists predict it will spread everywhere in the Western Hemisphere — save for Canada and Chile — by, like, tomorrow. The whole thing is terrifying, so here’s some panic salve: there are only 2 kinds of mosquitos that transmit Zika, and they’re really really easy to tell apart from the other 176 species in the United States looking for some of that sweet, sweet blood.
Both of the mosquitos you need to worry about are in the genus Aedes and look like a cross between a regular mosquito and a Siberian tiger, which is why one of them is known as the Asian Tiger Mosquito. Aedes are black and white, way bigger than your average mossie, and also kind of stupid. If that little brown thing buzzing in your ear most nights is an F-16, the Aedes is a Sikorski helicopter, comparatively slow and easy to spot. The map below shows the predicted range of the Aedes, so if you’re reading this from somewhere in the Rocky Mountains up through the Pacific Northwest, go ahead and call your coastal buddies and make fun of them.
If you are within range of an Aedes mosquito, you can now quell your wife’s panic by pointing out that the squished thing on her thigh is definitely no Asian Tiger and there’s nothing to worry about. And, if it is a tiger mosquito, prepare to concede every argument you ever have for the rest of your life. In the meantime, maybe invest in some DEET and a decent bug zapper.