Dr. Devi Suman won the $1000 John L McColgan Grant from the Northeastern Mosquito Control Association for the development of a non-lethal mosquito ovitrap. This affordable trap can add to a mosquito control agency’s ability to monitor mosquito population levels of mosquitoes, particularly container mosquitoes such as Aedes albopictus or Ae. aegypti. This lightweight trap does not require a light source and attracts not only female mosquitoes searching for a suitable place to lay eggs, but the eggs as well. Male mosquitoes will also come to the trap. Specimens are caught inside and maintained in good condition to allow molecular studies. Eggs can develop into larvae depending on how often traps are sampled. Thus, this trap can sample all aspects of population structure, is easy to use and is biodegradable.
From Alexandra Villiard’s doctoral work: Villiard A and R Gaugler. 2015 Long-term effects of carbohydrate availability on mating success of newly eclosed Aedes albopictus (Diptera: Culicidae) males. Journal of Medical Entomology, 52(3): 308-314, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jme/tjv030
“Sugar availability varies greatly in nature, and determining how this affects male mosquito fitness is essential for understanding population dynamics. We allowed male Aedes albopictus (Skuse) carbohydrate access for increasing intervals of time immediately after eclosion and we evaluated their fitness by comparing mortality, mating success, and sperm transfer. We compared individual male Ae. albopictus, which were offered water or 20% sucrose solution for 24, 48, or 72 h. As predicted, there were significant increases in fitness for each additional day of sucrose access. Following sugar exposure, we allowed males daily access to three virgin females. We assessed mating success through observation of spermatozoa in the female spermathecae. When individuals of the same age were compared, males with sugar access exhibited significantly greater mating success than water-treated males in all treatments. The total number of spermathecae filled by males with sugar access in the 48- and 72-h treatments was also significantly greater on some days; these were 3–5 d posteclosion in the 48-h treatment and 5–6 d posteclosion in the 72-h treatment. We conclude that extended sugar access at eclosion is important for maximizing fitness in male Ae. albopictus and should be applicable to sterile male release efforts, especially when laboratory-reared males suffered from other disadvantages. We recommend retaining adult males for 3 d posteclosion prior to release to improve their mating success in male release initiatives.”
Congratulations to Scott Crans for finishing his MS on “Spinosad: Efficacy and persistence against container-inhabiting mosquitoes” under Dr. Robson and to Alexandra Villiard for finishing her Ph.D. on “The influence of carbohydrate requirements on Asian tiger mosquito behavior and fitness” under Dr. Gaugler. It is always an accomplishment to finish the work and kudos on their graduation!
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.
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.
The Rutgers Drone Team (l to r): Drs. Greg Williams, Randy Gaugler, and Ary Faraji.
- 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.
- 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 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.