vdci-hall-of-fame-header pioneers in mosquito research

Pioneers in Mosquito Research

Over the years, mosquito control practices have changed and in many ways become more advanced. However, we are all rooted in basic strategies and principles developed long ago.  In our continual war to fight the spread of vector-borne diseases and the pestiferous mosquitoes that carry their disease-causing agents, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to the many men and women, who as pioneers in their time, paved the way for our programs today.

Read about their legacies below:

Clara Southmayd Ludlow

clara southmayd ludlow

Born: Dec. 26, 1952, Easton, PA

Died: Sept. 28, 1924, Washington D.C.

Claim to Mosquito Fame: 
In the early 1900s, Clara Ludlow was Chief Entomologist at the Army Medical Museum in Washington D.C. As a taxonomist specializing in mosquitoes, she described several new species during her career and helped map the distributions of disease vector species, especially in locations where the U.S. military personnel were stationed around the world. Dr. Ludlow was a pioneer in medical entomology at a time when science was considered a career predominantly for men.

Walter Reed

walter reed

Born: Sept. 13, 1851, Belroi, VA

Died: Nov. 2, 1902, Washington, D.C.

Claim to Mosquito Fame: 
Walter Reed was a Doctor and Major with the United States Army. In 1900, he led a team of researchers that confirmed a theory proposed 20 years earlier by Carlos Finaly that mosquitoes, specifically Aedes aegypti, transmitted yellow fever. Soon after, yellow fever was reduced in Havana by the U.S. army controlling mosquitoes. Later, mosquito control was instigated at the Panama Canal construction sites, reducing the incidence of disease and allowing the project to finally be completed. 

John Bernhardt Smith

john bernhardt smith

Born: Nov. 21, 1858, New York, NY

Died: Mar. 12, 1912, New Brunswick, NJ

Claim to Mosquito Fame: 
John B. Smith was the professor of entomology at Rutgers University in New Jersey from 1889 until death. His studies of New Jersey mosquito problems in the early 1900s led to the first organized large-scale mosquito control programs, based on science and focusing on eliminating mosquitoes at their source. Using private and public funding, they were able to demonstrate a significant reduction in adult mosquito populations and disease incidence.

Sir Ronald Ross

sir ronald ross vdci hall of fameBorn: May 13, 1857, Almora, India

Died: Sept. 16, 1932, London, UK

Claim to Mosquito Fame: 
Ronald Ross was a physician with the Indian Medical Service when, in 1897, he discovered malaria parasites (Plasmodium) developing in Anopheles mosquitoes. The following year, he studied avian malaria transmission by Culex mosquitoes, documenting the parasite life cycle. This led to the eradication programs against malaria by controlling the vector. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology of Medicine in 1902 for his malaria transmission discoveries.

Carlos Juan Finlay

carlos juan finlay vdci hall of fame

Born: Dec. 3, 1833, Camaguey, Cuba

Died: Aug. 20, 1915, Havana, Cuba

Claim to Mosquito Fame: 
Carlos Finlay was a Cuban physician and epidemiologist. He was the first researcher to theorize that yellow fever was transmitted by mosquitoes, specifically by the introduced species Aedes aegypti. He believed that by controlling the vector mosquito, it would be possible to reduce the levels of disease transmission. Although ridiculed for this hypothesis initially, later research by Sir Ronald Ross (malaria) and Walter Reed (yellow fever) would demonstrate Finlay’s theory to be correct.

Want to learn about the history of mosquito control in your area? Contact us today.