Did you know that mosquitoes’ resistance to insecticides can vary from location to location?
Kylee Noel, a PhD student with the Illinois Natural History Survey Medical Entomology Lab, is working with the Illinois Department of Public Health to track how insecticide resistance varies across Illinois Culex mosquito populations. Her work helps inform public health protection measures, as Culex mosquitoes are culprits in spreading West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.
Kylee's work isn't always glamorous!
You can sometimes spot her toting around 5-gallon buckets and gas canisters of grass infusion (which she eloquently calls "stink water") in order to collect egg rafts from Culex mosquitoes. The grass infusion's stench advertises to mosquitoes that it contains bacteria and other potential food sources for the mosquito's larvae to eat after hatching, and thus would be a great place to lay their eggs.
After Kylee collects the mosquito egg rafts from the buckets, she rears the mosquitoes in pans of water.
Once the mosquitoes have matured into adults, they're ready to be tested for insecticide resistance using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) bottle bioassays. The mosquitoes are placed in bottles coated with different types/levels of insecticides. If a mosquito stays up after a full two hours in an insecticide-coated bottle, it’s likely that the mosquito has some resistance to that insecticide.
Kylee follows up the CDC bottle bioassays with DNA extractions and further testing to try to determine the direct mechanism of insecticide resistance.
To learn more about this project and others by the INHS Medical Entomology Lab, visit medical-entomology.inhs.illinois.edu/research