Author Archives: Lisa Reed

Drones and Mosquito Control

Video from  Facebook Site Mosquito Drones showing precise briquette application.

Drones or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) represent the potential for targeting precise pesticide application to specific areas, reducing exposure to non-targeted areas and overall pesticide use. Dr. Randy Gaugler is heading a project for the use of UAVs for more precise pest control. These areas, often in large swamp or saltmarsh topographies, can represent significant costs to mosquito control programs when traditional methods of application are used, including aircraft and pilots. But UAVs can potentially eliminate much of that cost. Dr. Gaugler says “…when Greg Williams brought multi-rotors to my attention, particularly their ability to fly autonomous missions, I saw the potential for precision mosquito control. Small, agile, inexpensive, fully autonomous, easy to program missions, low maintenance—what was not to like?”
Dr. Greg Williams is the Superintendent of the Hudson Mosquito Control agency and a CVB member. He is responsible for designing and constructing the UAVs, along with help from other Center members, including Scott Crans, Ary Faraji, Devi Suman, Ishik Unlu and Yi Wang. The project’s critical mission is to target specific areas with application technology to reduce the environmental impact as well as time and dollars involved. This technology includes a carbon fiber 850 mm hexacopter with an underwater camera for surveying mosquito larval populations, the ability to dispense liquid or briquette pesticides and the use of GPS systems to determine and record flight patterns. Flights can be autonomous through a 3DR Pixhawk autopilot. This allows mosquito control agencies more flexibility and ease of use with the UAVs with a shallower learning curve.

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Island Drone Work

The Rutgers Drone Team was invited to David Copperfield’s private island for billionaires in the Bahamas (normally $54,000/day).  The team found four mosquito species on the island, listed here in order of importance:  Aedes taeniorhynchus, Psorophora johnstonii, Aedes tortillis, Culex bahamensis.  Surprisingly, no container species were found despite extensive surveillance efforts.  Key habitat was identified as limestone sinkholes and shallow rainwater pools associated with silver buttonwood trees.  A Special Topics class entitled “Tropical Pest Management” will be given on the island spring semester, headed by Profs. Gaugler & Unlu.   The drone team has been invited to return next fall to conduct further experimentation on mapping and aerial application.  All expenses are covered by Copperfield.islandtrip

The Rutgers Drone Team (l to r): Drs. Greg Williams, Randy Gaugler, and Ary Faraji.

More News from the Center

  • CVB has just received approval to initiate a search for the long desired microbiology position. More to follow.
  • The Faraji and Gaugler paper “Experimental host preference of diapause and non-diapause induced Culex pipiens pipiens” published this year in Parasites & Vectors is designated as “highly accessed” by the journal.
    • From the abstract and conclusions: “To determine the effect of diapause on the innate host preference of Cx. p. pipiens emerging from winter hibernation, we conducted host-choice experiments using bird and mammal hosts….We provide new information about the innate host preference of Cx. p. pipiens emerging from diapause in temperate habitats where winter survival is crucial for disease transmission cycles. Although we showed that Cx. p. pipiens prefers an avian to a mammalian host, nearly 20 % of emerging mosquitoes in the spring could feed on mammals. Changes in host preferences may also contain valuable clues about transmission dynamics and subsequent timely interventions by vector control and public health practitioners.”
  • CVB members Isik Unlu (Mercer Co.) and Greg Williams (Hudson Co.) were granted adjunct professor status by the Rutgers Department of Entomology.
Isik

Isik Unlu from Mercer County Mosquito Control

Greg Williams from Hudson County Mosquito Control

Greg Williams from Hudson County Mosquito Control

International News from the Center

  • Professor Gaugler and Dr. Wang recently visited China where they delivered invited lectures on their research. Local mosquito control personnel in Daqing displayed their equipment  and a discussion followed focused on the unique management issues assoc
    282px-China_Heilongjiang_Daqing.svg[1]

    Daqing City, China, from Wikipedia

    iated with a city surrounded by many thousands of acres of wetlands. In Beijing, they met with researchers at the People’s Liberation Army’s Center for Vector Biology, the most important medical entomology unit in China and an extremely impressive facility. Several days were also devoted to collections in Outer Mongolia at the invitation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
  • Plans are progressing for a U.S.-Iran meeting on vector biology and control, likely to be held in early 2017 near Tehran. CVB member Dr. Ary Faraji is leading this initiative, which follows recent visits to Iran by Drs. Faraji, Goudarz Molaei (Connecticut AES) and Professor Gaugler. Dr. Faraji will deliver a presentation at AMCA on Iranian mosquito research and control efforts.

Global Reach

Rutger’s motto of “Jersey Roots, Global Reach” will be exemplified by a series of lectures to be given in Iran by Professor Randy Gaugler and Dr. Ari Faraji. On the 24th of May, the two travel to the capital of Iran and the University of Tehran’s medical school and the Department of Medical Entomology to present several lectures on new technology and frontiers in mosquito and nematode research.  They will also travel to lecture at Ferdowsi University of Mashhad and later to Shiraz University in the town of the same name.

In reciprocity, the Center for Vector Biology welcomes the new addition of a visiting graduate student from Iran, Hana Allahverdi. Hana will be studying “zombie mosquitoes,” a topic to be further discussed in a future blog.global

More on the Vector Surveillance front in New Jersey

The regular weekly reports for the Vector Surveillance program has stopped, but the labs at the State and Cape May Division of Mosquito Control are finishing up their analyses of samples. This report will summarize the results to date. You can find the weekly reports on our webpages: http://vectorbio.rutgers.edu/reports/vector/

For Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), there were 36 positive pools, 35 in Culiseta melanura, and 1 positive in Culex salinarius. The last positive pool came in Cs. melanura collected at the Centerton resting box site at the end of October. This has been an active year for this significant virus, with four horses reported infected for this year. All four horses has either uncertain or no vaccination history. This is very unfortunate because horse cases can be virtually eliminated if horses are given the appropriate vaccines in the correct timetable. For vaccination schedules recommended by the American Association of Equine Practices, see: http://www.aaep.org/vaccination_guidelines.htm

nov5

So, the virus remained within the enzootic vector, Cs. melanura, for the most part this year. Yet we still had 4 horse cases. When horse cases occur, the mosquito control agencies are very quick to increase monitoring around the site, and did not find other infected potential bridge vectors. This points to the possibility of Cs. melanura acting as the bridge vector, something that data from the northeastern US has suggested previously. (from infection potential:  Armstrong, P. M., & Andreadis, T. G. (2010). Eastern equine encephalitis virus in mosquitoes and their role as bridge vectors. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 16(12), 1869–74. doi:10.3201/eid1612.100640 and from bloodmeal potential: Molaei, G., Oliver, J., Andreadis, T. G., Armstrong, P. M., & Howard, J. J. (2006). Molecular identification of blood-meal sources in Culiseta melanura and Culiseta morsitans from an endemic focus of eastern equine encephalitis virus in New York. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 75(6), 1140–7. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17172382.) The first paper also suggests that even though Cs. melanura may take mammalian meals in small percentages, their higher titer values, particularly in the absence of other positive vectors, make them a candidate for transmission to horse and/or humans.

With WNV, there were four more positive pools, all in Culex species (one in Culex restuans and 3 in Mixed Culex pools):

Nov5-2

This has not been a really unusual year with regard to WNV infections. More Ae. albopictus pools showed up positive but this is likely due to the inclusion of testing albopictus for Dengue and Chikungunya and the subsequent increased effort by the mosquito control agencies.  To date, there have been seven human cases and no reported horse cases. 18 out of 112 birds tested were positive, and mostly corvids. A final report will be posted when available.