Date

2018

Major

Biology (B.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. William Irby

Abstract

Due to it causing high mortality rates, Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEEV) is considered to be one of the most medically important encephalitic viruses in the Eastern United States. In order to be able to control the transmission of this virus, understanding of vector behavior and feeding preferences is necessary. In this study, the response of Culex nigripalpus to different snake skin odors was tested to determine if this species of mosquito responded to particular snake species. Culex nigripalpus showed the greatest response to Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) and Cottonmouth (A. piscivorus) snakes, as compared to other venomous snakes or non-venomous snakes, suggesting that odorants of these snakes associated with EEEV overwintering are more attractive to known vector mosquitoes. Future studies should additionally examine the response of this mosquito, and other mosquito species related to the transmission of EEEV, to live snakes. Efforts should also be made to identify which components of snake odorants are attractive to mosquitoes.

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