The first few months of 2018 were primarily spent in FMEL’s Biosafety Laboratory. Now, it’s time to shift gears and do some field work! May, June, and July will be spent preparing for and executing field trials to assess the susceptibility status of field populations of Aedes aegypti (yellow fever mosquito), Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger mosquito), and Culex quinquefasciatus (southern house mosquito). These field trials will be conducted in Indian River, Walton, and Pasco County.
Culex quinquefasciatus is a species that I hadn’t worked with very much until the last year. These mosquitoes are vectors of St. Louis encephalitis virus and West Nile virus. In contrast to Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, they lay egg rafts instead of laying their eggs singly. To collect eggs from ‘quinx’, we first created a bucket of ‘stink water’. This bucket of stink water was placed outside our lab in a wooded area and the next day we were able to collect egg rafts off the surface of the water.
In the above picture, Daviela and I are using a paint brush to gently remove the egg rafts from the surface of the water. The rafts are then placed on a piece of moist filter paper so we can take them into the lab. In the lab, we can hatch the egg rafts in a tray of water and rear them for our experiments. In one evening, we were able to collect 10 egg rafts from this stink water.
The egg rafts may look small, each raft is composed of 100 or more eggs. The picture below shows the egg raft under a microscope and here you can see how many eggs really make up this egg raft!
Our field trials in Indian River County will take place the week of May 21st, so stay tuned for more updates and pictures of field trials.