Mosquitoes and Inequality

Aedes albopictus

Aedes albopictus, the Asian Tiger Mosquito
Photo: James Gathany

Rising income inequality is a hot topic in the US in 2017. Poor people are often congregated in neighborhoods with lower services and lower quality. A study in Baltimore found that inequality applies to the distribution of Asian Tiger Mosquitoes. Poor neighborhoods have larger populations of mosquitoes than wealthy ones. Why?

The factors with the greatest influence on mosquito population are precipitation and vegetation. Poor neighborhoods have more abandoned buildings with standing water. They have less good trash removal. These create areas where water stands for long periods. Standard sanitation measures such as removal of trash that can contain water and maintenance of unoccupied buildings can reduce standing water and mosquito populations.

In wealthy neighborhoods, containers for plantings provide temporary breeding sites for mosquitoes that can generate substantial numbers of adults. Proper containers and management could reduce population is wealthy areas. Both poor and rich neighborhoods have more vegetation than moderate income neighborhoods. Moderate income neighborhoods have more lawn and fewer plants. Wealthy neighborhoods have more ornamental plantings. Poor neighborhoods have vacant lots with unplanned plant growth. All vegetation is not equally good mosquito habitat. The study recommends more data to better define areas where treatment could be most effective.

E. Little, D. Biehler, P. T. Leisnham, R. Jordan, S. Wilson & S. L. LaDeau. Socio-Ecological Mechanisms Supporting High Densities of Aedes albopictus (Diptera: Culicidae) in Baltimore, MD.
J Med Entomol 12 June 2017.
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/jme/tjx103

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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One Response to Mosquitoes and Inequality

  1. Pingback: Mosquitoes and Inequality – Entomo Planet

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