Orkin has released its Top Mosquito Cities list, and for the second time in a row, Atlanta takes top honors. The pest control specialist ranked cities on the list based on the number of mosquito customers they serviced in 2014.

Out of the top 20 Mosquito cities, nine were from Southeast states. June to August are prime mosquito months in many areas, but in southern portions of the United States, the season can stretch from April to October because of warmer temperatures. Orkin's director for technical services, Ron Harrison, Ph.D., also an entomologist, said that mosquitoes pose a major health concern because their bites can spread diseases and cause allergic reactions.

For instance, mosquitoes can transmit the West Nile virus plus other conditions that can lead to swelling in the brain or encephalitis. A new virus called chikungunya has also been discovered in the United States, and it too can be spread through mosquito bites.

In 2015, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention elevated the chikungunya virus into a "nationally notifiable condition," providing local and state health departments with standard definitions to facilitate tracking and reporting. So far during the year, over 70 cases of chikungunya have been reported in Americans, although patients were infected while traveling outside of the country. In 2014, the number of chikungunya cases swelled to over 2,400 in travelers.

The yellow fever and Asian tiger mosquitoes are the primary species that harbor the chikungunya virus and are common in the Southeast and certain parts of the Southwest. These mosquitoes are active at all hours of the day, not just at dawn and dusk, and often thrive in buildings in urban communities.

Like the West Nile virus, the chikungunya virus has no cure or vaccine for prevention. The best protection for the virus is to simply avoid mosquito bites as much as possible. To stay protected against mosquito bites, Orkin recommends:

- Applying an EPA-registered mosquito repellent before spending time outdoors

- Wearing clothing covering the entire body like pants and long-sleeved shirts

- Emptying sources of standing water (mosquitoes just need a few inches of water to breed!)

- Installing screens on doors and windows to keep mosquitoes out of homes

Orkin's Top Mosquito Cities list includes:

  1. Atlanta
  2. Chicago
  3. Washington
  4. Detroit
  5. Houston
  6. Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina
  7. Boston
  8. Dallas-Fort Worth
  9. Charlotte, North Carolina
  10. Nashville, Tennessee
  11. Memphis, Tennessee
  12. Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, Michigan
  13. Miami-Fort Lauderdale
  14. Richmond-Petersburg, Virginia
  15. Minneapolis-St. Paul
  16. New York
  17. Cleveland-Akron
  18. Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina; Asheville, North Carolina
  19. Albany-Schenectady-Troy, New York
  20. Knoxville, Tennessee

Photo: John Tann | Flickr

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