The summer season is here and the warm and rainy weather means mosquitoes are around.
While Connecticut researchers routinely test for West Nile virus, this year they are adding the Zika virus to their list.
The state started trapping on Tuesday, and on Wednesday they were out collecting the first few samples.
It is a process that will repeat itself daily through October, so researchers can keep tabs on the insects and the potentially dangerous and deadly viruses they can carry.
"This is a light trap and what it does, it attracts mosquitoes using the dry ice in here, once we connect it to battery, there will be a light that turns on and a fan that will suck all the mosquitoes down into a the net,” said soon-to-be UConn senior Robin Pancoast, who is spending her summer in swamps, trapping mosquitoes across New Haven County.
New Haven’s Beaver Pond Park is one of the 91 sites, in 72 cities and towns set up by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.
"Each of these locations are visited on a 10 day rotation, mosquitoes are collected in net, brought back to labs, identified,” said Philip Armstrong, of the CT Agricultural Experiment Station, which traps and tests about 200,000 mosquitoes each summer.
From June through October, researchers will monitor the types, numbers, and locations of the mosquitoes.
"The primary interest here in CT is West Nile virus, it's a virus we pick up every year, primarily in urban, suburban locations, New Haven, Fairfield, and Hartford counties,” Armstrong said.
The Zika virus testing is new this year.
"This is a virus that is spreading uncontrolled in Latin America and the Caribbean Islands and the concern is that travelers coming back from affected areas could contract the infection and then infect mosquitoes here in CT,” Armstrong said.
He added that it’s not very likely we will see Zika in Connecticut, but what’s more of a threat to the state are West Nile and Eastern Equine Encephalitis, that are already in the state.
"We're keeping our fingers cross that we don't have a bad mosquito year, but you just don't know. It really depends what the weather conditions will be like moving forward in the summer,” Armstrong said.
The Agricultural Experiment Station will post its testing results weekly on its website, and the first should be available early next week.
To check out the results, click here.
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