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Thursday June 08, 2023

Scientists concerned over new species of mosquito spreading in Florida

Every year, Florida faces the challenge of mosquito-transmitted diseases like the chikungunya virus, eastern equine encephalitis virus, dengue virus, and others

By Web Desk
March 25, 2023
(representational) The image shows a zoomed-in photo of a mosquito.— Unsplash
(representational) The image shows a zoomed-in photo of a mosquito.— Unsplash

A new species of mosquito has been discovered in Flordia, United States, that has migrated from the tropics, local media reported. Researchers published findings in the Journal of Medical Entomology.

It is not clear, however, whether this species, called Culex lactator, will transmit mosquito-borne viruses in the state. Scientists have expressed concern about the rate at which new mosquitos are arriving in Florida.

"There are about 90 mosquito species living in Florida, and that list is growing as new mosquito species are introduced to the state from elsewhere in the world," said lead study author Lawrence Reeves, an assistant professor and mosquito biologist at the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Research Center in Vero Beach.

The species was first discovered in southern Miami-Dade County in 2018. Reeves said that even though mosquitos are the most studied insects, we still do not know enough about them.

"That's particularly true for species from the tropical forests, where mosquitoes are diverse and understudied," Reeves stated in a university news release.

The author and his research crew used DNA analysis, among other tools, to find out the presence of the new species in the area. There are over 3,600 types of mosquitos worldwide.

Every year. Florida faces the challenge of mosquito-transmitted diseases like the chikungunya virus, eastern equine encephalitis virus, dengue virus, and others.

"It's too early to know whether Culex lactator will exacerbate these challenges, but the implications are often difficult to predict because not all mosquito species are equally capable of transmitting a particular virus or other pathogen," Reeves said.

The state has as many as 17 nonnative mosquito species. Out of these 17, 11 were reported in the past 20 years. Six were discovered in the last five years.