Written by Kelsey Renfro, Ecologist, Taxonomist, and Laboratory Manager in Colorado
Generally, in Colorado, we spend day after day digging through piles of Aedes vexans, Culex pipiens, Culex tarsalis, and several other common species. When it comes to adult mosquito surveillance, our Denver office alone sets and collects over 200 traps per week. It can get pretty exciting while sorting through a pile of mosquitoes, during your normal monotonous routine, when a specimen that doesn’t seem to belong appears under your microscope. After running the unique arthropod through a dichotomous key (an identification tool), the excitement is heightened when you realize you have found a mosquito species never previously recorded in your state! In a single season, our Denver lab identified three (3) species that lacked historical records in the state of Colorado. Needless to say, our team was intrigued by the new discoveries and took on the challenge to monitor their presence during the remainder of the season as well as throughout the next year.
The obvious question was, “Why are new species entering Colorado?” The state has seen a substantial increase in people moving in over the last decade. Could the influx of human residents be playing a role in the introduction of the 6-legged residents? Are changes by Mother Nature contributing to the mosquito species crossing state lines? Or a combination of the above?