Habitat preferences and phenology of Ochlerotatus triseriatus and Aedes albopictus (Diptera : Culicidae) in southwestern Virginia
Recently, the number of reported human cases of La Crosse encephalitis, an illness caused by mosquito-borne La Crosse virus (LAC), has increased in southwestern Virginia, resulting in a need for better understanding of the virus cycle and the biology of its vectors in the region. This study examined the spatial and temporal distributions of the primary vector of LAC, Ochlerotatus triseriatus (Say), and a potential secondary vector, Aedes albopictits (Skuse). Ovitrapping surveys were conducted in 1998 and 1999 to determine distributions and oviposition habitat preferences of the two species in southwestern Virginia. Mosquitoes also were collected for virus assay from a tire dump and a human La Crosse encephalitis case site between 1998 and 2000. Oc. triseriatus and Ae. albopictus were collected from all ovitrap sites surveyed, and numbers of Oc. triseriatus eggs generally were higher than those of Ae. albopictus. Numbers of Oc. triseriatus remained high during most of the summer, while Ae. albopictus numbers increased gradually, reaching a peak in late August and declining thereafter. In Wise County, relative Ae. albopictus abundance was highest in sites with traps placed in open residential areas. Lowest numbers of both species were found in densely forested areas. Ovitrapping during consecutive years revealed that Ae. albopictus was well established and overwintering in the area. An oviposition comparison between the yard and adjacent forest at a human LaCrosse encephalitis case site in 1999 showed that Ae. albopictus preferentially oviposited in the yard surrounding the home, but Oc. triseriatus showed no preference. LAC isolations from larval and adult collections of Oc. triseriatus females from the same case site indicated the occurrence of transovarial transmission.