Research solves cipher of mosquito eggs
Researchers have figured out how to tell which eggs belong to which mosquito species, helping to more quickly identify insects of greatest public health concern.
Mosquito traps are widely used to monitor insect populations, provide disease surveillance and evaluate control activities. But four of the most worrisome disease-carrying mosquito species often lay eggs in the same trap, making it difficult to quickly determine which eggs belong to which species.
Scientists in Virginia used sophisticated microscopic and photographic equipment and imaging software to reliably, efficiently and cost-effectively tell the eggs apart and link them to the right species.
The approach eliminates the need to rear trapped mosquito eggs to adulthood, reducing labor and time—up to two or more weeks—while providing an accurate count of mosquitoes that are putting public health at risk.
The researchers also are studying how to control mosquito populations using genetics and physiology. They are using molecular tools to manipulate the mosquito genome to disrupt mating behavior and, in turn, control populations. The work is helping move closer to the long-term goal of reducing mosquito-borne infectious diseases.