Project leader: Alexandra CHASKOPOULOU
Background: Mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) undoubtedly constitute one of the world’s most serious nuisance and disease related pests that are responsible for the suffering of more than 500 million people per year, with ~ 1 million deaths annually. Mosquitoes are responsible for the transmission of many medically important pathogens and parasites such as bacteria, protozoans, nematodes and viruses that can cause serious diseases such as malaria, dengue, yellow and Chikungunya fever, encephalitis or filariasis. Several important mosquito vectors are prevalent in both the United States and Europe/Mediterranean Basin, such as Culex pipiens, which transmits filarial worms, West Nile (WNV) and encephalitis viruses, Aedes albopictus,which transmits Chikungunya (CHIKV) and dengue viruses, and Anopheles species, the main vectors for malaria. In addition to their role as vectors of disease, mosquitoes continue to present a significant role as nuisance pests in many parts of the world through their biting activity in search of blood meals. At peak activity times, mosquitoes can severely inhibit personal freedom with a consequent economic effect on the value of housing, local tourism and agriculture.
Integrated vector management (IVM) aims to accomplish vector control safely, efficiently, and sustainably. An IVM strategy does not rely on a single control method but employs a broad variety of tools and methods, both chemical and non-chemical, to control the target pest in the most efficacious and environmentally safe way possible. These tools may be biorational agents specifically toxic to the target pest, or broader action, “traditional” insecticides, which, when used at the right time with the proper application technologies, can produce efficacious results with negligible impact on non-target organisms. Compatibility of new insecticides and insecticide application techniques with beneficial organisms and natural enemy populations in the field is a critical aspect of IVM practices.