Fonseca Lab

ESA’s Invasive Species Position Statement

Click here for the full statement. Notice the formal definition of “invasive species” –

“‘Invasive species’ means an alien species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or
environmental harm or harm to human health” Executive Order 13112 (1999)”

I would like to highlight recommendation#2 “Create a rapid-response funding and authorization mechanism to eradicate or stop the spread of invasive species; and recommendation# “Create a National Invasive Species Intervention Network (NISIN).”

It’s a MUST READ! This is a “tour-de-force” led by Andrea Egizi – in the end there are 25 co-authors on the publication and a great set of representative populations from across the Asian longhorned tick’s native and exotic ranges were examined at the barcoding locus in the cytochrome oxidase 1.

Bottom line: (1) bisexual and parthenogenetic ALTs split a while back; (2) US pops all bear the parthenogenetic CO1 signature; (3) so far, only 3 CO1 haplotypes have been detected, which are clustered across the NE US; (4) the most likely origin of US ALT is China. Road trip!

Here’s a link to the story on the Rutgers site.

Photo by Jim Occi @ CVB

Asian longhorned tick Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Tick IPM #3: Asian Longhorned Tick IPM. Dina and Matt Bickerton will be giving this webinar on July 13. See link for registration.

Questing Asian longhorned tick, Haemaphysalis longicornis. You can see its outstretched arms in the shadow on the right. Picture by Dina Fonseca (taken with a bittyPhone)

The Asian giant hornet has been re-detected in 2020, two queens

credit: Joel Nielsen (from WSDA site)

May 29, 2020 – update. The Washington State Department of Agriculture reported on their website that the first US Vespa mandarinia of 2020 was detected near Custer, WA on May 27 by a resident. It was a queen, consistent with the stage that would have overwintered. The locations indicate a localized infestation – i.e. it is highly unlikely the species will be detected outside the Pacific NW this year. Here’s a link to a video press conference (click).

May 28, 2020 – The New York Times reports two confirmed collections of Vespa mandarinia in May 2020. One in British Columbia, Canada near Langley, and the other in Washington state. Both are locations in the Pacific northwest relatively close to the original discovery in Washington State although apparently farther north and south than originally expected. Odds are that the species is established, but “hope springs eternal”. While not yet published it appears there is genetic evidence of at least two separate introductions.

Deja vu anyone??

Invasive hornet (maybe)


May 20, 2020 – These are not new news but old news: Asian giant hornets (AGH), including a nest later destroyed, were detected in western Canada (British Columbia) last summer (2019). Later, in December, a dead AGH specimen and some suspicious evidence of large numbers of dead (decapitated) honeybees were detected in a couple of locations in Washington State. For details developed to provide information to the public that is starting to think any large insects is an AGH click here.

Contacted in late April, Sven-Erik Spichiger from the Washington State Department of Agriculture confirmed that no detections of the species have been made so far in 2020. Click here for a mapped tally of putative detections. The photo above was provided by Sven-Erik for the information sheet developed by Michelle Infante-Casella and William Bamka. Thanks!

Late night update: From Karla Salp, WSDA “nothing new to report! No new confirmed Asian giant hornet sightings in Washington.”

New Undergraduate Students in the Fonseca Lab!

The Fonseca Lab would like to welcome three new undergraduate students, Courtney Guinard, Kathleen Kyle, and Christian Susu!

Courtney Guinard

Courtney Guinard is an undergraduate student majoring in Animal Science and minoring in Equine Science. She will studying blood meals from mosquitoes that fed on rats in Baltimore, MD as bio-surveillance for Bartonella. The project will allow Courtney to record which species are active in Baltimore, MD. After graduation Courtney would like to attend veterinary school and focus primarily on horses. Courtney is a member of The Seeing Eye at Rutgers University where she raises and trains service dogs.

Kathleen Kyle

Kathleen Kyle is an undergraduate student studying Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources. She will be graduating this semester with a Bachelor of Sciences degree. Kathleen is currently working with Rafael on his eDNA research and assists him on the brown marmorated stink bug and spotted latternfly projects. Kathleen has always been interested in invasive species and hopes to continue learning about invasion ecology and its management and detection.

Christian Susu

Christian Susu is an undergraduate student studying Animal Science: Pre-Veterinary Medicine and Research. He hopes to attend veterinary school after graduation. Christian is currently assisting Jim, Andrea, and Dina in the research of invasive ticks for a NJMCA Poster. Christian’s research focuses on tick borne disease risks in dogs in urban settings and will conduct surveillance to analyze the effects of urban and non-urban ticks.

Welcome Florence!

Florence Pierre

Welcome to the Fonseca Lab Florence Pierre! Florence is an undergraduate student studying Biological Sciences and hopes to attend medical school and become a osteopathic doctor. Her research interests are how animal species affect agriculture and vice-versa. Florence is currently working with Rafael on early detection of invasive insects in terrestrial systems. In her spare time, Florence likes to volunteer for various organizations and to dance.

Welcome Sydney!

Sydney Gable

The Fonseca Lab would like to welcome Sydney Gable as one of our newest members in the lab! Sydney is an undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources. She hopes to continue her studies and pursue a graduate degree in ecology and evolution. Her research focus is on the rapid evolution in mosquito larvae osmoregulation in varying levels of salinity in their environment. Sydney is currently assisting Brian on the salt marsh mosquito project.

Sydney works as a simulated patient for the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. She is also a DJ and hosts karaoke night throughout New Brunswick.

Jim Occi at the Long Beach Island Foundation

Jim Occi will be delivered a lecture on New Jersey ticks at the Long Beach Island Foundation for the Arts on January 13th at 12pm. For more information, please click here.

Congrats Dana Price, Brian Johnson, and Andrea Egizi on the acceptance of their grant proposal!

Brian Johnson, Andrea Egizi and Dana Price submitted a grant proposal to the American Mosquito Control Association Research Fund.  Their project will develop a novel shotgun sequencing approach to analyze metagenomic material (genetic material sampled directly from environmental samples) collected from sentinel nucleic acid preservation cards to improve our knowledge of arboviral transmission dynamics across landscapes. The approach, shotgun sequencing, is a method of obtaining long sequences of DNA and RNA by breaking up genetic material randomly into small segments, which are sequenced resulting in the production of many overlapping reads (sequences) of each individual segment. Once complete, the overlapping ends of the multiple sequences allow for the assemblage of a single, large continuous sequence.  This technology will be used to analyze metagenomic material sampled remotely using nucleic acid preservation cards to sample DNA and RNA from direct vector contact, either through feeding (collection of saliva) or excreta sampling. This method will allow researchers to analyze vector and pathogen diversity as well as the microbiome content of collected vector species in the absence of the logistical constraints of traditional surveillance and sample preservation. These data will further our knowledge of arboviral transmission across landscapes and investigate the potential functions of the microbiome on virus transmission. The hope is that through this pilot project, the researchers will be able to provide trapping and workflow protocols to enable other researchers to adopt this tool to improve upon existing arbovirus surveillance methodologies.

Jim Occi lectures at the New Jersey Medical School

November 15 – Jim Occi will deliver a lecture titled “The New Jersey Tick Problem” to the Mini Med School at the New Jersey Medical School in Newark, NJ. The lecture begins at 7 pm in the Medical Sciences Building. For more information visit the Mini Med School website.

Welcome Deblina!

Deblina Mukherjee

The Fonseca Lab would like to welcome Deblina Mukherjee as one of the newest members in the lab! Deblina will be developing strategies to detect highly degraded blood meals in mosquitoes and ticks. She is a senior at Rutgers University in the School of Arts and Sciences and is studying biological sciences. Deblina hopes to attend medical school after graduation.

At Rutgers, Deblina is the treasurer of RU Swara, which is an Indian classical music performing arts team. In addition, she is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

Outside of the Fonseca Lab and Rutgers University, Deblina is an EMT at the Plainsboro Rescue Squad, a certified Nursing Assistant at the Elms of Cranbury, a founder of Tutor @ Advantage Tutoring and teaches Hindustani Classical Music after earning her Bachelor’s degree in that field. In addition, Deblina is multilingual and speaks five languages: Bengali, English, Hindi, Spanish, and Urdu.