skip to main content

Title: Changes in Container-Breeding Mosquito Diversity and Abundance Along an Urbanization Gradient are Associated With Dominance of Arboviral Vectors
Abstract Environmental conditions associated with urbanization are likely to influence the composition and abundance of mosquito (Diptera, Culicidae) assemblages through effects on juvenile stages, with important consequences for human disease risk. We present six years (2011–2016) of weekly juvenile mosquito data from distributed standardized ovitraps and evaluate how variation in impervious cover and temperature affect the composition and abundance of container-breeding mosquito species in Maryland, USA. Species richness and evenness were lowest at sites with high impervious cover (>60% in 100-m buffer). However, peak diversity was recorded at sites with intermediate impervious cover (28–35%). Four species were observed at all sites, including two recent invasives (Aedes albopictus Skuse, Ae. japonicus Theobald), an established resident (Culex pipiens L), and one native (Cx. restuans Theobald). All four are viral vectors in zoonotic or human transmission cycles. Temperature was a positive predictor of weekly larval abundance during the growing season for each species, as well as a positive predictor of rapid pupal development. Despite being observed at all sites, each species responded differently to impervious cover. Abundance of Ae. albopictus larvae was positively associated with impervious cover, emphasizing that this medically-important vector not only persists in the warmer, impervious urban landscape but is positively associated with it. Positive temperature effects in our models of larval abundance and pupae occurrence in container habitats suggest that these four vector species are likely to continue to be present and abundant in temperate cities under future temperature scenarios.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ;
Diuk-Wasser, Maria
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Medical Entomology
Page Range / eLocation ID:
843 to 854
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract Background

    Effectively controlling heartworm disease—a major parasitic disease threatening animal health in the US and globally—requires understanding the local ecology of mosquito vectors involved in transmission. However, the key vector species in a given region are often unknown and challenging to identify. Here we investigate (i) the key vector species associated with transmission of the parasite,Dirofilaria immitis, in California and (ii) the climate and land cover drivers of vector presence.


    To identify key mosquito vectors involved in transmission, we incorporated long-term, finely resolved mosquito surveillance data and dog heartworm case data in a statistical modeling approach (fixed-effects regression) that rigorously controls for other unobserved drivers of heartworm cases. We then used a flexible machine learning approach (gradient boosted machines) to identify the climate and land cover variables associated with the presence of each species.


    We found significant, regionally specific, positive associations between dog heartworm cases and the abundance of four vector species:Aedes aegypti(Central California),Ae. albopictus(Southern California),Ae. sierrensis(Central California), andCuliseta incidens(Northern and Central California). The proportion of developed land cover was one of the most important ecological variables predicting the presence or absence of the putative vector species.


    Our results implicate three previously under-recognized vectors of dog heartworm transmission in California and indicate the land cover types in which each putative vector species is commonly found. Efforts to target these species could prioritize surveillance in these land cover types (e.g. near human dwellings in less urbanized settings forAe. albopictusandCs. incidens) but further investigation on the natural infection prevalence and host-biting rates of these species, as well as the other local vectors, is needed.

    Graphical Abstract 
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Microplastics (MPs) are common environmental pollutants; however, little is known about their effects after ingestion by insects. Here we fed Aedes (Stegomyia) aegypti (L.) and Aedes (Stegomyia) albopictus (Skuse) mosquito larvae 1 µm polystyrene MPs and examined the impacts of ingestion on adult emergence rates, gut damage, and fungal and bacterial microbiota. Results show that MPs accumulate in the larval guts, resulting in gut damage. However, little impact on adult emergence rates was observed. MPs are also found in adult guts postemergence from the pupal stage, and adults expel MPs in their frass after obtaining sugar meals. Moreover, MPs effects on insect microbiomes need to be better defined. To address this knowledge gap, we investigated the relationship between MP ingestion and the microbial communities in Ae. albopictus and Ae. aegypti. The microbiota composition was altered by the ingestion of increasing concentrations of MPs. Amplicon sequence variants (ASVs) that contributed to differences in the bacterial and fungal microbiota composition between MP treatments were from the genera Elizabethkingia and Aspergillus, respectively. Furthermore, a decrease in the alpha diversity of the fungal and bacterial microbiota was observed in treatments where larvae ingested MPs. These results highlight the potential for the bacterial and fungal constituents in the mosquito microbiome to respond differently to the ingestion of MPs. Based on our findings and the effects of MP ingestion on the mosquito host micro- and mycobiome, MP pollution could impact the vector competence of important mosquito-transmitted viruses and parasites that cause human and animal diseases.

    more » « less
  3. Abstract Mosquitoes pose an increasing risk in urban landscapes, where spatial heterogeneity in juvenile habitat can influence fine-scale differences in mosquito density and biting activity. We examine how differences in juvenile mosquito habitat along a spectrum of urban infrastructure abandonment can influence the adult body size of the invasive tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus (Skuse) (Diptera: Culicidae). Adult Ae. albopictus were collected across 3 yr (2015–2017) from residential blocks in Baltimore, MD, that varied in abandonment level, defined by the proportion of houses with boarded-up doors. We show that female Ae. albopictus collected from sites with higher abandonment were significantly larger than those collected from higher income, low abandonment blocks. Heterogeneity in mosquito body size, including wing length, has been shown to reflect differences in important traits, including longevity and vector competence. The present work demonstrates that heterogeneity in female size may reflect juvenile habitat variability across the spatial scales most relevant to adult Aedes dispersal and human exposure risk in urban landscapes. Previous work has shown that failure to manage abandonment and waste issues in impoverished neighborhoods supports greater mosquito production, and this study suggests that mosquitoes in these same neighborhoods could live longer, produce more eggs, and have different vector potential. 
    more » « less
  4. Container Aedes mosquitoes are responsible for the transmission of anthroponotic and zoonotic viruses to people. The surveillance and control of these mosquitoes is an important part of public health protection and prevention of mosquito-borne disease. In this study, we surveyed 327 sites over 2 weeks in late June and early July in 2017 in North Carolina, USA for the presence and abundance of Aedes spp. eggs in an effort to better target potential Ae. aegypti collections. We examined the ability of 2 types of landscape data, Light Detection And Ranging (LIDAR) and National Land Cover Database (NLCD) to explain the presence and abundance of eggs using principal component analysis to deal with collinearity, followed by generalized linear regression. We explained variation of both egg presence and abundance for Aedes albopictus (Skuse) and Aedes triseriatus (Say) using both NLCD and LIDAR data. However, the ability to make robust predictions was limited by variation in the data. Increased sampling time and better landscape data would likely improve the predictive ability of our models, as would a better understanding of oviposition behavior. 
    more » « less
  5. Abstract Background

    TheAedesaegyptimosquito is a vector of several viruses including dengue, chikungunya, zika, and yellow fever. Vector surveillance and control are the primary methods used for the control and prevention of disease transmission; however, public health institutions largely rely on measures of population abundance as a trigger for initiating control activities. Previous research found evidence that at the northern edge ofAe.aegypti’s geographic range, survival, rather than abundance, is likely to be the factor limiting disease transmission. In this study, we sought to test the utility of using body size as an entomological index to surveil changes in the age structure of field-collected femaleAedesaegypti.


    We collected femaleAe.aegyptimosquitoes using BG sentinel traps in three cities at the northern edge of their geographic range. Collections took place during their active season over the course of 3 years. Female wing size was measured as an estimate of body size, and reproductive status was characterized by examining ovary tracheation. Chronological age was determined by measuring transcript abundance of an age-dependent gene. These data were then tested with female abundance at each site and weather data from the estimated larval development period and adulthood (1 week prior to capture). Two sources of weather data were tested to determine which was more appropriate for evaluating impacts on mosquito physiology. All variables were then used to parameterize structural equation models to predict age.


    In comparing city-specific NOAA weather data and site-specific data from HOBO remote temperature and humidity loggers, we found that HOBO data were more tightly associated with body size. This information is useful for justifying the cost of more precise weather monitoring when studying intra-population heterogeneity of eco-physiological factors. We found that body size itself was not significantly associated with age. Of all the variables measured, we found that best fitting model for age included temperature during development, body size, female abundance, and relative humidity in the 1 week prior to capture . The strength of models improved drastically when testing one city at a time, with Hermosillo (the only study city with seasonal dengue transmission) having the best fitting model for age. Despite our finding that there was a bias in the body size of mosquitoes collected alive from the BG sentinel traps that favored large females, there was still sufficient variation in the size of females collected alive to show that inclusion of this entomological indicator improved the predictive capacity of our models.


    Inclusion of body size data increased the strength of weather-based models for age. Importantly, we found that variation in age was greater within cities than between cities, suggesting that modeling of age must be made on a city-by-city basis. These results contribute to efforts to use weather forecasts to predict changes in the probability of disease transmission by mosquito vectors.

    Graphical abstract 
    more » « less