UF/IFAS Scientists Find Another Clue to Monitor, Trap Virus-Spreading Mosquito


Newswise — GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- The Asian tiger mosquito is attracted to flowering butterfly bushes, giving mosquito control officials another tool to monitor and trap the insect that can transmit pathogens, causing potentially deadly diseases, a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences study shows.

Asian tiger mosquitoes prefer to lay eggs in containers.

With that in mind, UF/IFAS researchers monitored several sized containers that they had placed indoors, in screen houses and in residential backyards. They also monitored containers placed next to butterfly bushes. They wanted to see where the Asian tiger mosquito laid more eggs. Scientists found significantly more eggs in the largest containers, and they found more eggs in containers next to flowering bushes than in containers next to bushes without flowers.

As mosquito control officials try to battle the spread of potentially fatal viruses, their first tool is surveillance and trapping.

“One of the potential outcomes of this study might be that someone could look at the flower fragrances as a way to lure egg-laying female mosquitoes to some sort of trap,” said Phil Kaufman, a UF/IFAS associate professor of entomology. “The use of the flowers will help to attract mosquitoes to a trapping device placed near bushes. Thus, you could improve your capture of pathogen-infected mosquitoes.”

The Asian tiger mosquito can transmit yellow fever, dengue and West Nile viruses. Those viruses are sickening and, in some cases, killing people in some parts of the world. Dengue and West Nile viruses have hit Florida and are spreading across the United States, although no deaths have been reported in the U.S.

The new study is published in the Journal of Medical Entomology.

By: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303Source: Phil Kaufman, 352-273-3975, pkaufman@ufl.edu

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