An “erratic” mosquito moves north and the results are predictable

even-virescens-2523735_1920Egizietal2018(EcoHealth) This was a project that was a long time in the making! But we accumulated co-authors along the way and the content became more and more interesting. Culex erraticus is a southern mosquito species that was first detected in NJ in 1969 and became officially present across all 21 NJ counties by 2011. We performed a bloodmeal analysis on specimens “set-aside” by county mosquito control programs across NJ and found that the primary (over 50%) blood hosts for this mosquito in NJ are large-sized waterbirds such as double-crested cormorants and green herons. In that blood we also found a new species of bird malaria (Plasmodium) that appears to be a wetland bird specialist. Unlike exotic mosquitoes such as the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus or the house mosquito, Culex pipiens, that are domestic and for the most part do not venture away from cities and suburbs, native species moving north are out there, in nature. Their expansion may therefore have strong effects on wildlife, which may spill over to humans – for example, birds are the reservoir hosts for deadly arboviruses such as Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV). Cx. erraticus does bite humans also.

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