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Mosquitoes found to breed on dry surfaces
May 2, 2017, 5:46 pm

In an upending of standard wisdom that mosquitoes breed by laying eggs in floating ‘egg-rafts’ on standing water, new research is showing that a major species of mosquitoes can lay their eggs in more varied locations.

The study, by a research-team at the University of Florida, found that most species within the Culex family of mosquitoes lay their eggs in a variety of dry locations. In the study, Culex mosquitoes were placed in screened cages with dishes containing both standing water and partially submerged objects, such as a terra cotta pot or segments of mangrove roots. The researchers were surprised to find that most of the mosquitoes' ‘egg clusters’ were laid on the dry surfaces of the terra cotta and roots, and not on the surface of the water.

They noted that the breeding habits of one Culex species, Culex pipiens, has been well-studied because it helps spread West Nile virus to humans. Culex pipiens does tend to favor ‘egg-raft’ breeding, but other species in the Culex family may not.

This new finding could also have implications on efforts to curb populations of Aedes aegypti — a separate type of mosquito, responsible for spreading the Zika and dengue viruses to humans — which have their own reproductive strategy. Female Aedes mosquitoes lay eggs out of water and, more importantly their eggs do not hatch right away, but remain alive, in a ready-to-hatch state for months.

This means that even if all of the adult mosquitoes are killed off, there are many, many eggs just waiting to hatch when water levels rise high enough to wet them. This calls for added vigilance, not just in killing adult mosquitoes but also in reducing the source population of eggs wherever they are being laid.

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