Baltimore Ecosystem Study Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2012 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Neighborhood-level variation in the risk of mosquito exposure.
LaDeau, Shannon
Co-Authors: Paul Leisnham (Univ of MD, College Park) Dawn Biehler (UMBC)

Abstract: Despite over a century of organized and often sophisticated efforts to control mosquitoes, nuisance complaints persist and mosquito-borne diseases are a persistent and growing concern in urban communities across the globe. The need for personal responsibility in managing urban pests at the scale of individual parcels is increasingly viewed as the dominant paradigm for mosquito control in urban and suburban settings. This is especially relevant as Aedes albopictus, the voracious tiger mosquito, continues to spread across temperate cities. This presentation details results from the initial season of a project designed to quantify mosquito exposure at the scale of individual yards and across neighborhoods. The research is designed to specifically test the hypothesis that residents of different socio-economic backgrounds experience different levels of mosquito exposure and will evaluate whether knowledge of mosquito ecology can be associated with better control strategies. In a early season sampling period (June), 82% of samples from our lower socio-economic status neighborhood (Franklin Square) contained mosquito larvae as compared to only 28% of samples from our higher socio-economic status neighborhood (Union Square). In late July, this percentage fell to 66% in Franklin Square but rose to 38% in Union Square. Additionally, surveys of adult mosquitoes suggested higher biting populations in Union Square versus Franklin Square by late July. These results both support our initial expectations that the abundant garbage and refuse present in the lower socio-economic status neighborhood is an important habitat for mosquito breeding. However, our results also suggest an important role for larger, more permanent breeding habitats associated with larger biting adult populations by mid-summer. Many of the garbage containers (e.g., cups, tires) that were active larval habitat in June were dry by late July. However, gardens and yard care were more likely to maintain larval habitat (e.g., planters, yard furniture/ornaments) during the hottest part of the summer.