Pete Obenauer

Originally inhabiting forests of Southeast Asia, Ae. albopictus has adapted to a variety of environments. It oviposits in a wide range of breeding sites to include tree holes, used tires, the axils of plant leaves, bird-baths and rain gutters, just to name a few. This is advantageous for the mosquito, allowing it to establish in domestic and rural habitats. Furthermore, this ability to utilize a variety of breeding sites has allowed it to quickly spread throughout the world, establishing itself in 28 countries in just the past 30 years! LCDR Obenauer is determining if certain natural attractants may be used to lure gravid females to traps. In a natural setting, leaves often collect at the bottom of containers, thus providing ideal breeding sites for certain mosquitoes. Some leaves deposited in containers may be more attractive for Ae. albopictus egg-laying sites. Natural attractants could possibly be incorporated into traps that would then be baited with insecticides to kill the exposed adult as she oviposits and the larvae soon after hatching.

In addition to being a severe biting nuisance, Ae. albopictus is a capable of transmitting over 20 diseases including dog heartworm, yellow fever, and dengue. Recently, it was incriminated in an outbreak of chikungunya virus in Italy, for the first time ever. Chikungunya is a reemerging mosquito-borne disease which is believed to have sickened thousands of Indians and Pakistanis two years ago in conjunction with a dengue fever epidemic. Dengue and chikungunya cause fever, rash and severe pains in the joints. These diseases threaten the health and welfare of our deployed forces and could adversely affect military readiness. LCDR Obenauer hopes that his research will provide new insights to prevent further introductions of this mosquito and develop new control measures to reduce the threat of diseases.

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