Illinois Natural History Survey News

blog navigation


blog posts

  • Chronic wasting disease in Illinois: resources and disease dynamics

    Protecting the deer herd from chronic wasting disease has economical value to the State of Illinois, recreational value to deer hunters, and a health value for CWD-susceptible animals. Currently, there is no treatment or vaccination against CWD. Management based on removal of infected deer in areas where disease is present is the only known strategy to control the spread of CWD.

  • Researchers survey and study mosquito vectors for the Zika virus in Illinois

    Researchers at the Illinois Natural History Survey are surveying and collecting adult female mosquitoes in Illinois and testing how effective insecticides are against them, particularly the Asian tiger mosquito, a species capable of transmitting the Zika virus.


  • Illinois team tackles mysterious disease afflicting wild and captive snakes

    Researchers in the Illinois Natural History Survey are investigating every aspect of snake fungal disease, hoping to find a treatment.

  • Study shows disease can be more effective in controlling invasive species than management efforts

    Populations of the common carp, introduced from Eurasia and historically the most abundant fish species in parts of the Illinois River, declined from the 1970s to the 1990s and have never made a comeback. A recent University of Illinois study showed that natural factors, including disease, can more effectively curb invasive species populations than human management efforts.

  • INHS researchers address vector borne diseases through CDC Center of Excellence

    INHS Scientists Nohra Mateus-Pinilla and Richard Lampman will partner with the College of Veterinary Medicine to conduct research for the new Upper Midwestern Center for Excellence in Vector Borne Diseases, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The center is headquartered at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The Illinois team will develop forecasting models and statistical spatial risk maps of regionally important mosquitoes and ticks and the diseases that they cause. Using optimization algorithms, historical data on field trapping of mosquitoes and ticks, and other ecological methods, the Illinois team will also help determine the level of surveillance data required to make effective control decisions.

  • Tick-infested songbirds help spread Lyme disease

    Songbird species that carry the ticks responsible for Lyme disease and other diseases forage close to the ground in large wooded areas, according to a recently published study by Christine Parker, a graduate research assistant at the University of Illinois’ Prairie Research Institute, Illinois Natural History Survey.

  • Moving Firewood Long Distances Can Spread Invasive Insects

    What’s in your firewood? Tree-killing insects or diseases may be hiding in or on firewood that may be transported hundreds of miles to campsites or fireplaces.

  • New Bacterial Leaf Disease is Confirmed in One Illinois Corn Field

    In a recent survey of approximately 340 corn fields in 68 Illinois counties, bacterial leaf streak was confirmed in only one county, according to Kelly Estes, Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) coordinator, Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS), Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois.

  • Threat of Zika in Illinois low, but precautions can be taken

    INHS Medical Entomologist Ephantus Muturi was interviewed by the Chicago Tribune about the threat of Zika virus in Illinois. Muturi says that Aedes aegypti, which transmits Zika, has been found in Illinois but does not thrive in our climate. The Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopinctus, is found in Illinois, but has not been found to transmit Zika, though more research is needed. 

  • INHS Cave Biologist Steve Taylor interviewed about White-Nose Syndrome

    INHS Cave Biologist Steve Taylor was contacted about cave dwelling bats and White-Nose Syndrome (WNS). Taylor is part of a team from the Illinois Natural History Survey monitoring caves throughout Illinois for signs of WNS.

  • Video produced about White-Nose Syndrome research

    INHS Mycologist Andy Miller and graduate student Daniel Raudabaugh were featured in a video produced by the Prairie Research Institute on their research into White-Nose Syndrome in bats.

  • Editorial calls on Wisconsin to follow Illinois' strategy regarding CWD

    Research findings by INHS Wildlife Epidemiologists Mary Beth Manjerovic, Michelle L. Greena, Nohra Mateus-Pinilla and University of Illinois colleague Jan Novakofski were referenced in an editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Their research, found that after Wisconsin discontinued culling deer populations with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), the prevalence of CWD in Wisconsin had an average annual increase of 0.63%. During that same time period, Illinois continued government culling and there was no change in prevalence throughout Illinois.

  • Cave microbe produces compound that inhibits the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome

    A new study from INHS Mycologist Andrew Miller and grad student Daniel Raudabaugh has found that the yeast Candida albicans produces a compound: trans, trans-farnesol, that inhibits growth of Pseudogymnoascus destructans, the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in bats.

  • New paper published on Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, the fungus causing snake fungal disease

    A new paper by INHS affiliate Matthew Allender, INHS Graduate student Daniel Raudabaugh and Mycologist Andrew Miller was published on Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, the causative agent of snake fungal disease. This a serious emerging fungal pathogen of North American-endemic and captive snakes and has been a factor in the decline of the Eastern Massasauga in Illinois. Watch a video about the Illinois Natural History Survey's research on the Eastern Massasauga and Ophidiomyces 

  • White Nose Syndrome found in three additional counties

    White Nose Syndrome, the fungal disease that leads to mortality in bats, has now been confirmed in 11 counties in Illinois. First discovered in New York in 2006, the fungus has spread west, first being detected in Illinois in 2013. INHS Cave Biologist Steve Taylor told an NPR affiliate that, "between 2013 and 2015, it was like a 95 percent decrease in the number of bats at this site, which in 2013 was in excess of 25,000 bats."

  • Cat disease Toxoplasmosis found in muskrats and minks

    INHS Graduate student Adam Ahlers led a study on the prevalence of Toxoplasmosis, a disease spread by cats. The researchers found antibodies for Toxoplasma gondii, the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, in 18 of 30 muskrats and 20 of 26 minks tested for the disease in central Illinois.

  • INHS researchers collaborate with U of I Vet Med to detect fungus in snakes

    INHS Research Affiliate Matt Allender (a professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine) has developed a way to detect the presence of a deadly fungus with less impact on the infected snake. INHS Mycologist Andrew Miller and his graduate student Dan Raudabaugh are working to understand the fungus itself. This work is being done in conjunction with the long-term INHS research project on the critically endangered Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake. INHS Herpetologists Chris Phillips and Mike Dreslik have been studying the ecology of the snakes for over 15 years.

  • West Nile Virus confirmed in Evanston

    The Illinois Natural History Survey Medical Entomology Lab has reported the first positive tests for West Nile Virus this year from samples collected in Evanston. For more information, visit the Medical Entomology Program website.

  • Heske interviewed on White Nose Syndrome in bats

    INHS Mammalian Ecologist Ed Heske was featured in an article about White Nose Syndrome where he said that the situation "looks kind of pessimistic." Heske is part of a multidisciplinary team led by INHS researchers, that has been surveying Illinois caves for signs of WNS over the past three years. Visit our website for more information on White Nose Syndrome research at INHS.

  • Fungus that causes white nose syndrome is a survivor

    INHS Mycologist Andrew Miller and graduate student Daniel Raudabaugh recently published a paper on the fungus Pseudogymnoascus (Geomyces) destructans, which causes white nose syndrome in bats. In this first, in depth study of the basic biology of the fungus, the researchers found that P. destructans can survive on a wide variety of nutrient sources. White Nose Syndrome research at the Illinois Natural History Survey.

  • Culling maintains low prevalence of Chronic Wasting Disease in deer populations

    INHS Wildlife Epidemiologist Nohra Mateus-Pinilla and postdoctoral researchers Mary Beth Manjerovic and Michelle Green conducted research on the effectiveness of culling deer to prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). CWD is a 100% fatal disease in deer, likened to Mad Cow Disease. Their paper compared the culling strategy used in Illinois to the two different management strategies used in Wisconsin over a decade. Listen to the interview on Focus 580.

  • Banned chemicals persist in river otters

    INHS researchers Samantha Carpenter and Nohra Mateus-Pinilla recently published a paper in the journal Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety. Carpenter, Mateus-Pinilla, and University of Illinois Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory researchers, analyzed liver tissue samples from 23 river otters looking at 20 organohalogenated compounds used in agriculture and industry. Read stories from the Red Orbit and News Room America.

  • Positive tests for West Nile

    Mosquito samples from Morton Grove tested positive for West Nile Virus at the INHS Medical Entomology Lab.