Scientists at the University of Florida (UF) have warned of the possibility Culex lactator mosquitoA species from the tropics found in this condition can act as a potential vector for disease transmission.
The state university center released a statement Wednesday that professors at its Faculty of Agricultural and Life Sciences (IFAS) Clinical Entomology Laboratory have shown in a study that Culex lactator is already a permanent resident of at least three Florida counties.
Originating in Central America and northern South America, Culex lactator belongs to the Culex group of mosquitoes that includes species that transmit West Nile and St. Louis encephalitis viruses.
A scientific study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology notes that the species was discovered in Miami-Dade County in 2018 by UF/IFAS professors during an investigation into other non-native mosquitoes.
The study highlights that mosquito populations have been recorded in Miami-Dade, Collier and Lee counties, an area they say is under-researched.
Lawrence Reeves, lead author of the study and a mosquito biologist at the UF/IFAS Research Center, noted that there are about 90 species of mosquitoes in Florida. World, new species.
The expert confirmed that the introduction of new species of mosquitoes like this is a concern because, being non-native, “they are considered very complex.”
“Culex lactator is very similar to the mosquito species known from Florida. It looks like other common ones”, Reeves clarified, pointing out that its presence in an area can easily be overlooked due to this similarity.
Reeves and his team of scientists not only discovered a new species of mosquito using DNA analysis, but also identified it as Culex lactator.
He explained that every year Florida faces problems with mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Dengue and Chikungunya.
“It is too early to know if Culex lactator will cause any problems, but the impacts are often difficult to predict because not all mosquito species are capable of transmitting the virus,” he noted.
Initial Culex lactator samples were collected in 2018 from rural areas of southern Miami-Dade County, south of the city of Florida, followed by additional adults and immatures from the same locations in 2022.
In the same year, Culex lactator was found in Collier and Lee counties.
In Florida, 17 non-native mosquito species have become established, 11 of which were reported for the first time in the past two decades and six in the past five years, Reeves explained.
Aedes aegypti, Aedes albopictus, and Culex quinquefasciatus mosquitoes are considered among the most important disease vectors in the United States, as are the new species Culex lactator, a non-native Florida species from the tropics.