Speed Reads

new in town

Mosquito species from South America discovered in Florida

A new species of mosquito has made its way to Florida and it could spell trouble. Known as the Culex lactator, the species is normally found in Central and South America, NPR reports. "There are about 90 mosquito species living in Florida, and that list is growing as new mosquito species are introduced to the state from elsewhere in the world," said lead author of the study Lawrence Reeves of the University of Florida.

The species was first found in Miami-Dade County in 2018 and subsequently spread to more counties in Southwest Florida. The Culex group of mosquitos is also known to spread diseases including the West Nile virus. Scientists are researching whether the lactator can cause disease spread in the region. 

"Introductions of new mosquito species like this are concerning because many of our greatest mosquito-related challenges are the result of nonnative mosquitoes," Reeves explained. "It's difficult to anticipate what to expect when we know so little about a mosquito species." There are currently 17 nonnative species of mosquito in the state, with six of them being discovered in just the last five years, NPR continues.

Climate change is known to increase the interaction between humans and animals including insects. It also "may improve the chances of tropical mosquito species becoming established once they make it to Florida if the state becomes warmer," added Reeves. "Increasing storm frequency and intensity could also blow in more mosquitoes and other species from the Caribbean, Central America, and elsewhere."

"We need to be vigilant for introductions of new mosquito species because each introduction comes with the possibility that the introduced species will facilitate the transmission of a mosquito-transmitted disease," he said.