Scientists Battle Mosquitoes with Tiny "Copepods" - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Scientists Battle Mosquitoes with Tiny "Copepods"

Posted: May 22, 2018 6:46 PM Updated:

CAMBRIDGE, Md.- With Delmarva receiving plenty of rainfall recently, there are also plenty of mosquitoes to go with it. Scientists at Horn Point Lab in Cambridge say they may have one thing up their sleeve to stop them.

Professor Jamie Pierson has been studying tiny crustaceans, called copepods, for two decades. His newest experiment takes the native species of copepods, just a millimeter long, and pairs them with newborn mosquito larvae.

"We would leave them alone for about 24 hours and, at the end, we could count how many copepods are left and how many larvae are left," Pierson said.

Now six months into the experiment, Pierson has found the copepods will eat between five to 10 larvae depending on the mosquito species. Pierson and his team get the mosquitoes from cups they place outside around campus. He says using local copepods to fight off local mosquitoes is key to helping them determine if the critters can put a dent in Maryland's mosquito population.

Pierson adds they're also looking into whether copepods can be an alternative to pesticide-use when it comes to controlling the mosquito population.

"The mosquitoes that we're focusing on are known to transmit mosquito diseases like West Nile and Zika viruses," Pierson said.

With over 50 known species of copepods in the Chesapeake region alone and another 60 species of mosquitoes, Pierson says he's still got plenty more tests to run.


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