Biological control of mosquitoes

The guilded walls of intellectualism encircling UNE’s Biddeford campus cannot protect its citizens from the mosquitos borne in the diverse aquatic habitats that surround us. With the emergence of mosquito-borne diseases in southern Maine (West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis), we decided to enlist birds, bats and plants as agents of mosquito control. In collaboration with UNE’s Environmental Health and Safety Department, we have established a colony of box nesting Tree Swallows and Bluebirds, set up bat houses, and dispersed whisky-barrels full of mosquito repelling plants. Along with collaborator Jeff Foster, we are using molecular techniques to see if these birds are in fact eating mosquitoes, and if they are eating the right ones (e.g. species that carry the yucky stuff).