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Controlling Mosquitos: It's Not Just About the Bug

NSF Award:

Geographies of Insects and Institutions: Mosquito Governance in the U.S. Southwest  (University of Arizona)

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Researchers at the University of Arizona have concluded that the implementation of mosquito management strategies in Arizona's major urban areas is the product of a mix of socioeconomic, historical and political factors. However these strategies often poorly match the complex ecology and hydrology that govern the distribution of mosquito habitats.

This analysis highlights the need to understand implementation of public health strategies within complex, coupled, natural and human systems that are subject to a broad range of external forces.

The study used mosquito life cycle modeling, remote sensing, mosquito trapping and interviews with managers and the public to measure the match and mismatch of management and ecology. Researchers mapped the distribution of mosquito habitats in urban environments and simultaneously examined the spatial manifestations of the two primary forms through which public health organizations try to control mosquito populations. Those two forms are a highly focused strategy of detection and destruction of breeding sites, while the other approach partitions space more broadly in support of widespread chemical spraying of adult mosquito populations. 

The researchers compared the ways in which these approaches are implemented through analysis of government agencies charged with controlling mosquitoes in the Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan areas. They conclude there is a spatial mismatch between specialized state strategies and the complexity of mosquito ecology.


  • researcher traps mosquito
Researcher traps mosquito in Arizona.
Paul Robbins, University of Arizona

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