Researchers can predict number of mosquitoes two months ahead

March 25th, 2009 - 1:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, March 25 (IANS) Researchers have found a way to predict how many mosquitoes will be there in a given area, up to two months ahead. This should help fight outbreaks of mosquito-borne disease like dengue and Ross River fever by allowing efficient and cost-effective mosquito control.
Ecologist and associate professor Corey Bradshaw at the University of Adelaide said: “The risk of disease transmission is highest when mosquitoes are at their most abundant.

“This model is a tool that helps predict when there is going to be a higher-than-average outbreak so that population control efforts can be implemented when they are going to be most effective and are most needed.”

Researchers analysed 15 years of population data of Aedes vigilax, the mosquito that transmits the Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses, and compared it with environmental factors affecting populations including tides and rainfall, according to an Adelaide release.

For instance, in salt-loving species like the Aedes vigilax mosquito, populations tend to peak after very high tides. But the frequency of high tides and the amount of rainfall in the preceding months when mosquito numbers are low are the critical elements dictating the magnitude of eventual peaks.

“Previously, we didn’t know how big that peak would be,” said Bradshaw. “With this model, mosquito control efforts can be scaled according to the expected size of a future peak.”

The research was published in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

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