Degner, Ethan: Travel Grant - 2017-2018

College: 
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Department: 
Entomology
Project Title: 
Understanding how mosquito feeding behavior links poverty and disease
Project Abstract: 
Poverty is correlated with elevated susceptibility to mosquito-borne viruses in Colombia, but the mechanisms that drive this association remain poorly resolved. One possibility is that mosquito feeding behavior causes increased disease burden; mosquitoes’ ability to transmit diseases is related to how frequently they feed on humans, and their opportunities to feed on humans vary across an urban landscape. With this grant, I will test the hypothesis that Aedes aegypti mosquitoes have a higher human feeding frequency in poor communities than in affluent ones. Using a vacuum aspirator and sticky traps, I will collect blood fed mosquitoes from homes in several communities in Apartadó, Colombia, and I will identify their host species using established PCR-based methods. To understand factors that predict human feeding, I will also correlate housing design and non-human host abundance to feeding patterns. This work will inform the epidemiology of mosquito-borne diseases in urban settings, and it may ultimately aid campaigns that aim to reduce vector-human contact.