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Study reveals unexpected causes of mosquito population growth

by Take Two®

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An Aedes Aegypti mosquito is photographed on human skin in a lab of the International Training and Medical Research Training Center (CIDEIM) on January 25, 2016, in Cali, Colombia. CIDEIM scientists are studying the genetics and biology of Aedes Aegypti mosquito which transmits the Zika, Chikungunya, Dengue and Yellow Fever viruses, to control their reproduction and resistance to insecticides. The Zika virus, a mosquito-borne disease suspected of causing serious birth defects, is expected to spread to all countries in the Americas except Canada and Chile, the World Health Organization said. AFP PHOTO/LUIS ROBAYO / AFP / LUIS ROBAYO (Photo credit should read LUIS ROBAYO/AFP/Getty Images) LUIS ROBAYO/AFP/Getty Images

Mosquito populations in the U.S. have grown significantly over the last few decades, in some places by as much as ten times previous numbers. The increase in mosquitoes raises concern that diseases like the Zika virus could spread further into northern regions. 

A new study published in Nature Communications examined mosquito populations in California, New York and New Jersey. While climate change does play a part, researchers determined that urbanization and the decline of the now banned insecticide, DDT played the most influential roles, contrary to prior thought. It turns out that some kinds of mosquitoes, including the ones that commonly spread disease, have become experts at adapting to human created habitat.

Take Two's A Martinez spoke with one the study's coauthors, Marm Kilpatrick. He's an associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  

To hear the full interview, click on the Blue Arrow above. 

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