Asian tiger mosquito an unlikely threat to Wisconsin

Researcher tracking insects in the state

MADISON- They've never been a well-liked insect, but now more than ever most people want nothing to do with mosquitoes. 

A University of Wisconsin Entomology researcher is the exception. With the help of county health departments, Dr. Susan Paskewitz is actively tracking mosquitoes in Wisconsin that could be carrying the Zika Virus.

"We're focusing on the Asian Tiger mosquito because these recent maps that put it kind of close to our borders," explained Dr. Susan Paskewitz, Professor and Chair of the Department of Entomology at University of Wisconsin.

The CDC released a map showing areas where the type of mosquitoes that could carry Zika were found.  Several were found in Minnesota, Illinois, and one in Iowa.  Researchers are ramping up surveillance by simulating places where the mosquitoes known for carrying Zika might lay their eggs.

"And so you call that an ova trap and it's basically just a little stadium cup that's dark so our's are black and it's got water in it and then it has a sub straight where they can lay their eggs," explained Dr. Paskewitz.

About 10 Southern Wisconsin counties are using the traps.

"Those eggs then get returned to the laboratory.  We'll hatch them once they become a little bit bigger of the immature stage we can identify them and tell whether they're the Asian tiger mosquito or one of the other container breeding mosquitoes that occur in Wisconsin."

It takes a few days for the eggs to hatch.

"Once they get flooded again with water they'll hatch the little larvae will come out.  They'll be fed things like fish food, yeast, it will take about a week and they should be big enough for us to identify."

Dr. Paskewitz says the tracking process is a way to be proactive. 

"To make sure we haven't missed it that it hasn't sneaked in under the radar," said Paskewitz.

Researchers don't expect to find Asian tiger mosquitoes in Wisconsin.

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