01 June 2012

First round complete!

We just finished the last sites for our first round of sampling.  Over the past couple of days we visited four potential sites and were able to collect at two (with the two others providing some limited data).  This trip (dubbed the "trip of Northern aggression") took us close to the Tennessee border (specifically to Prentiss and Union county, MS).  We also visited a site in Webster county.  This area of Mississippi is rather picturesque, with rolling hills, agricultural and pastures, and mature forests.  Unfortunately, some of these places also are attractive for dumping used tires, which is where we come in.

We began our work in Prentiss county, located less than an hour from the Tennessee border.  Although the two sites we had hoped to survey did not have tires that had water or larvae, we did find a couple of local tire businesses that met our criteria.

One of the two tire businesses we sampled in Prentiss, Co, MS.  Many more tires were distributed around this site, and this is one location where we may likely find Aedes japonicus (see below).
Our interest in these sites comes not only from collecting data on mosquitoes in general, but more specifically we are hopeful to collect a new invasive species, Aedes japonicus (Fig. 1).  This species, imported into the U.S. from Asia (the species name kinda gives it away), has been spreading westward from its initial importation site in New York state, and now occurs as far west as Iowa.  This species also appeared in the far west (Washington State) about the same time, but does not appear to be moving east (See Fig. 2).  The first confirmed record of this species from Mississippi comes from Fulton, MS (Itawamba co.) in 2011.  This location is very close to some of our northern sites, and thus we are hopeful we will see more of this new invader.

Fig. 1. Aedes japonicus (note the gold bands on the thorax).  Photo by A. Farajollahi

Fig. 2.  Distribution of both Aedes albopictus and Aedes japonicus (lower panel) in the United States (original source unknown).

We also collected at a site in Blue Springs, MS, which had a good number of tires located near some homes.  The site was very large, and apart from tire inhabiting mosquitoes, we also encountered our first tire-inhabiting reptile!  We've previously crossed off tire-inhabiting amphibians so we are hopeful to soon find some tire-inhabiting aves.

A turtle using a tire as a resting site. 

A frog (seen here in a tire from Waynesboro, MS in 2011) showing the reptiles how it's done.
Francis goes horizontal to investigate a tire in Blue Springs, MS.

Our final trip was to Eupora, MS, located about 2 hours north of Meridan.  As with all of our sites, we have been targeting tires that not only are available for mosquito colonization, but give us a good opportunity to understand the factors important in explaining patterns of community and population dynamics.  Thus, we look for locations where tires are exposed to different environmental conditions or occur in a variety of locations.  At this site, the tires were located under mostly pine trees, which will give us a good opportunity to investigate this form of detritus (i.e., pine needles) on community and population patterns.  Pine needles have been shown to be a rather poor resource for developing larvae (e.g., Murrell and Juliano 2008).

Francis, Alisa, and Chris (L to R) survey part of one of the piles in Eupora, MS. 

Ashton (front) and Francis perfect the Henry Ford method of processing tires located along the small ridge to the right.  Alisa can be seen over Ashton's shoulder doing something.

With round 1 complete, we will begin round 2 in the next few weeks after everyone catches their breath and finishes processing all the data.   So far, we have processes about 200 tires.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,I am a current med student with a love for entomology. My kids think its hilarious seeing as they must always explore insects with me but my question is do hornets or yellow jacket larvae bite or sting and do they eat during pupation metamorphism also is it ok to burn nest if one must eradicate ? Thanks for any input and great pics