Local Researchers Studying Mosquitoes
Shrubs and Mosquitoes
Allie Gardner, a graduate student in the UIUC Department of Entomology working with Brian Allan and Juma Muturi, is studying mosquito population composition in Champaign County urban parks as a component of her doctoral research. She is using four Urbana Park District parks as study sites (Weaver Park, Busey Woods, Chief Sheumager Park, and the Urbana Dog Park).
Every two weeks Allie will sample for adult mosquitoes at each park. She will use two types of mosquito traps with battery-powered fans. Traps will be set in the evening and collected in the early morning. In addition, she will conduct weekly sampling for mosquito larvae in stagnant water pools (e.g., tree holes, artificial containers, storm water catch basins).
Allie is studying the effects of invasive shrubs (particularly bush honeysuckle and autumn olive) on Culex pipiens, the main vector for West Nile virus. Her hypothesis is that the high-biomass sugar source provided by dense invasive vegetation will encourage greater mosquito production than areas dominated by native plants. The project is a follow-up to her Master's work, which suggested that there is a strong correlation between presence of shrubs and mosquito abundance in suburban residential communities.
Mosquitoes and Land Use
Ephantus Muturi with the Illinois Natural History Survey is conducting a study to evaluate how land use patterns influence mosquito ecology and potential for West Nile virus transmission in Urbana-Champaign. The experimental design is to collect aquatic and adult stages of mosquitoes in different types of landscapes including native prairies, wooded areas, corn fields, and areas under cultivation of second generation biofuel crops (Miscanthus and switch grass).
The study involves sampling mosquitoes at four study sites of each category to determine how land use patterns influence mosquito species diversity and abundance, oviposition behavior, longevity and West Nile virus infection rates in mosquitoes. The sampling involves setting up oviposition traps, gravid traps and Centers for Disease Control light traps in secluded locations in each of the study sites. Oviposition traps are just simple plastic buckets baited with grass infusion, a mosquito attractant and are monitored each day for presence of Culex egg rafts. In contrast, gravid traps and light traps are commercial traps designed to collected gravid and host-seeking females, respectively. These will be run at each site two times a week between 3:00 pm and 7:00 am the following day. The traps will be placed in secluded areas in each location are labeled appropriately to inform the public of the ongoing research.
For more information about each of these studies, conctact the researchers.
Allie Gardner, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ephantus J. Muturi, email@example.com