Exploring Mosquito Thermal Biology and Chemical Ecology in the Context of Host-Seeking and Climate Change

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Virginia Tech


Mosquitoes are a significant global public health threat, claiming hundreds of thousands of lives annually due to the various pathogens they transmit, which result in diseases including dengue, malaria, and Zika. While various strategies and practices are in place to manage mosquito populations, these methods may be challenged due to a rise in insecticide resistance in some mosquito species, the increasing impacts of global climate change, and invasive species populations. This work presents four distinct projects investigating Culex spp., Ae. albopictus, and Ae. j. japonicus mosquitoes using a range of methods and techniques to bring novel insight into the biology and ecology of these mosquitoes. The first project focuses on the thermal preference and response to thermal cues of three Culex species which vary in host preference and climate of origin. The second project explores the effects of different rearing temperatures and regions of origin on the thermal performance, life-history traits, and nutrient reserves of Ae. albopictus mosquitoes. The third project shifts to the optimization of a species-specific attractive toxic sugar bait (ATSB) trap targeted toward invasive Ae. j. japonicus mosquitoes. The fourth chapter, which is field oriented, focuses on determining the role of elevation on mosquito biodiversity and pathogen prevalence. Collectively, these works explore how mosquitoes interact with their environment to support research-informed decisions in future mosquito control practices.



thermal biology, host and sugar seeking, invasive species, climate change, disease vector insects