ABERDEEN, S.D. –Six Northern State University biology/environmental science
students and two NSU biologists are part of statewide efforts in South Dakota to identify and test mosquitoes that can carry West Nile virus.
The NSU biology team has mosquito trap stations located at eight sites in Brown County. There are two collection stations on Richmond Lake, two at Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge, one in Warner, one in Stratford, and two others located in rural locations in central Brown County.
Each morning during the week the students travel to the collection sites, retrieve the catch of mosquitoes from the day previous and attach a new trap bag and fresh supplies. The students return to the biology lab on the NSU campus and begin the tedious task of separating, categorizing and counting the many mosquitoes.
Each trap can yield as few as a dozen mosquitoes to as many as over a thousand. Most traps average 300-500 mosquitoes daily. The largest number taken in any one trap so far this summer is more than 900.
The NSU team is specifically looking for the mosquito species Culex tarsalis, which are regarded as the most likely carriers of West Nile virus. Those mosquitoes are separated and placed into vials and sent to the South Dakota Department of Health in Pierre for testing for the West Nile virus.
This is the second year that Northern State University has participated in the statewide mosquito tracking effort, which is funded through an award from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the South Dakota Department of Health. The NSU team has helped expand the Brown County test region beyond the City of Aberdeen and provide the S.D. Department of Health with additional vital resources in the efforts to monitor and control the Culex tarsalis mosquitoes.