Abundance of West Nile virus mosquito vectors in relation to climate and landscape variables

J Vector Ecol. 2011 Jun;36(1):75-85. doi: 10.1111/j.1948-7134.2011.00143.x.


It is currently unclear if the potential for West Nile virus transmission by mosquito vectors in the eastern United States is related to landscape or climate factors or both. We compared abundance of vector species between urban and suburban neighborhoods of Henrico County, VA, in relation to the following factors: temperature, precipitation, canopy cover, building footprint, and proximity to drainage infrastructure. Mosquitoes were collected throughout the 2005, 2006, and 2007 seasons and tested for West Nile virus (WNV) in pools of 10-50. Test results of mosquito pools were compared to average site abundance from 37 sites in Henrico County, VA; abundance was then examined in relation to ecological variables. Urban infrastructure was positively correlated with the abundance of Culex pipiens L./Cx. restuans, and our findings implicate combined sewer overflow systems as large contributors to Culex vector populations. No measure of urbanization examined in our study was correlated with Aedes albopictus abundance. Our study showed that certain landscape variables identified using Geographic Information Systems are valuable for predicting primary WNV vector abundance in Virginia, and that temperature along with low precipitation are strong predictors of population growth. Our results support other regional studies that found WNV proliferates under drought conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aedes / growth & development
  • Aedes / virology
  • Animals
  • Climate
  • Culex / growth & development
  • Culex / virology
  • Culicidae / growth & development*
  • Culicidae / virology*
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Geography
  • Insect Vectors / growth & development
  • Insect Vectors / virology
  • Temperature
  • West Nile virus / physiology*