Honors College Theses

Publication Date



Biology (B.S.B.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. William Irby


Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV) is an arbovirus that can cause fatal infections in humans and horses. Unfortunately, the transmission mechanisms of this virus are still largely unknown. Culex erraticus displays a strong potential for serving as a vector of EEEV because of its indiscriminate feeding pattern and abundance in areas with the highest prevalence of infection. However, Culex erraticus is incapable of over-wintering the virus, yet EEE recurs each spring. Snakes may play an important role in over-wintering the virus, and certain snake species may be infected more frequently than others. This study was conducted to determine if Culex erraticus showed a behavioral response to odors released by snake skins of different species. Culex erraticus mosquitoes were collected in Bulloch County, Georgia, and bioassays were completed comparing the response of the mosquitoes to each snake skin alone and then comparing the response between two snake species. Culex erraticus did not show a strong behavioral response to any of the snake skins tested in this study. This may suggest that Culex erraticus is not attracted to the odor released by these snake species. It may also suggest that if odor does attract Culex erraticus to snakes, the attracting odor is not solely produced by the skin. Future studies should be conducted using skins of other snake species, especially those shown previously to have active viruses or antibodies against EEEV. Also, bioassays conducted on intact snakes would help indicate if factors other than snake skin odor attract Culex erraticus.