Thursday, 12 January 2017

Two virus-carrying mosquito species discovered, nine new ones in a decade




Date: January 9, 2017
Source: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences entomologist has found two more non-native mosquito species in Florida that transmit viruses that cause disease in humans and wildlife. That makes nine new mosquito species found in Florida in the past decade.

"The presence of any exotic mosquito is important from a nuisance, or biting, standpoint," said Nathan Burkett-Cadena, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of entomology at the UF/IFAS Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory in Vero Beach, Florida. "However, these two species are known to transmit pathogens that affect human and animal health."

Burkett-Cadena found the mosquito species Aedeomyia squamipennis and Culex panocossa in Florida City and Homestead, both in south Miami-Dade County. He and Erik Blosser, a post-doctoral researcher at the FMEL, were visiting South Florida to collect a native mosquito species, Culex cedecei, to investigate its biology and ecology, when they noticed the two non-native species.

They took samples from several environments including forests, farms, roadside ditches and even populated areas using carbon dioxide-baited light traps and vacuums to collect adults and buckets to collect larvae.

Everglades virus, a type of encephalitis virus, is found in South Florida, said Burkett-Cadena, and Culex panocossa is known to transmit encephalitis viruses. Although the new species were found in South Florida, they will likely spread to North Florida and perhaps neighboring states because of widespread, suitable larval habitat, particularly water lettuce, he said.

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