Welcome to Florida, Culex lactator, the mosquito species that originated in Central and South America. Although this Culex may have the same appearance as any other mosquito you’ve ever gotten bothered by, scientists say they don’t yet know whether it poses a threat to animals or human health.
The introduction of new mosquito species like this raises concerns because nonnative mosquitoes are largely to blame for our greatest mosquito-related problems “said Lawrence Reeves, lead author of a recent study conducted by researchers at the UF/IFAS Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory in Vero Beach and published in the Journal of Medical Entomology. “When we are unfamiliar with a mosquito species, it might be challenging to predict what might happen.
“Nevertheless, experts are unsure if the newest species is a bird feeder and how it will affect virus transmissions. Birds can harbor diseases like the West Nile virus and St. Louis encephalitis that Culex could spread by feeding off both birds and humans. Although mosquitoes are among the most studied insects due to their function in the transmission of diseases, Reeves stated that a wide variety of species found in tropical woods remain understudied.”
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New Mosquito Latest To Establish In Florida
Reeves and his team identified the new mosquito species using DNA analysis and other methods. While looking for other non-native mosquitoes, the University of Florida researchers discovered the new invasive mosquito in Miami-Dade County in 2018. Since then, it has flourished in Miami-Dade, Collier, and Lee counties, while Reeves speculated that it may have spread to other parts of the state. Reeves claims that as Florida’s climate adapts to be more conducive to creatures from the Southern Hemisphere, the mosquito is the most recent to develop there.
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— Florida Today (@Florida_Today) March 23, 2023
There are more than 3,600 different species of mosquitoes in the world, and Reeves noted that they can accidentally travel to new locations by catching a ride on an airliner or being blown in by air currents. Up to 17 non-native mosquito species have established themselves in the state, but Reeves noted that the rate of new introductions is increasing. Among the 17 non-native species, 11 have just been discovered in the last 20 years, and six of these 17 have only been found in the last five.