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Invasive mosquito species taking root in Iowa

Iowa State University said an invasive species of mosquito for the first time is surviving the winter in three Iowa counties, allowing the species to establish itself in the state.Mosquito surveillance efforts led by Iowa State University entomologists uncovered the invasive mosquito species known as Aedes albopictus in Lee, Des Moines and Polk counties.It was thought Iowa’s harsh winters kept the species from making a permanent home in Iowa, said Ryan Smith, an associate professor of entomology and the director of the ISU Medical Entomology Laboratory. “For a long time, it was thought that these mosquitoes wouldn’t survive the winter here,” Smith said. “Our data show they’re here, and they seem to be spreading.”ISU reports the invasive mosquitoes first showed up in the United States in 1985 in Texas.Smith said Aedes albopictus mosquitoes don’t spread West Nile Virus, but is a competent vector for Zika, chikungunya and dengue viruses, which can all cause serious health problems in humans. Smith said Iowans should be aware the species appears to have taken root in some parts of the state, but the species’ presence shouldn’t cause panic. “Just be aware that they’re here, and they have the potential to spread,” Smith said. “Pay attention to neglected materials in the yard that could allow them to lay eggs.”Smith said Iowans may be able to notice the Aedes albopictus mosquitoes with the naked eye. The species has a distinctive white racing stripe along their backs that can help distinguish them from other species common in the state. They tend to be most active in late summer. Although it appears the species has established itself in only three counties, that number is likely to rise in the years ahead, Smith said.“Exactly how fast and what counties they’ll expand to is unclear, but it is a question that we are continuing to follow,” he said.ISU said the mosquito study was possible through close cooperation with the Iowa Department of Public Health and several local public health partners throughout the state.Other headlines:

Iowa State University said an invasive species of mosquito for the first time is surviving the winter in three Iowa counties, allowing the species to establish itself in the state.

Mosquito surveillance efforts led by Iowa State University entomologists uncovered the invasive mosquito species known as Aedes albopictus in Lee, Des Moines and Polk counties.

It was thought Iowa’s harsh winters kept the species from making a permanent home in Iowa, said Ryan Smith, an associate professor of entomology and the director of the ISU Medical Entomology Laboratory.

“For a long time, it was thought that these mosquitoes wouldn’t survive the winter here,” Smith said. “Our data show they’re here, and they seem to be spreading.”

ISU reports the invasive mosquitoes first showed up in the United States in 1985 in Texas.

Smith said Aedes albopictus mosquitoes don’t spread West Nile Virus, but is a competent vector for Zika, chikungunya and dengue viruses, which can all cause serious health problems in humans. Smith said Iowans should be aware the species appears to have taken root in some parts of the state, but the species’ presence shouldn’t cause panic.

“Just be aware that they’re here, and they have the potential to spread,” Smith said. “Pay attention to neglected materials in the yard that could allow them to lay eggs.”

Smith said Iowans may be able to notice the Aedes albopictus mosquitoes with the naked eye. The species has a distinctive white racing stripe along their backs that can help distinguish them from other species common in the state. They tend to be most active in late summer.

Although it appears the species has established itself in only three counties, that number is likely to rise in the years ahead, Smith said.

“Exactly how fast and what counties they’ll expand to is unclear, but it is a question that we are continuing to follow,” he said.

ISU said the mosquito study was possible through close cooperation with the Iowa Department of Public Health and several local public health partners throughout the state.

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