Land use patterns and the risk of west nile virus transmission in central Illinois

Allison M. Gardner, Richard L. Lampman, Ephantus J. Muturi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding how human land use patterns influence mosquito ecology and the risk of mosquito-borne pathogens is critical for the development of disease management strategies. We examined how different environments influenced mosquito species composition, abundance, and West Nile virus (WNV) infection rates in central Illinois. Using a combination of gravid traps and CDC light traps, adult mosquitoes were collected every other week from June 24 to September 16, 2012, in four major land use categories - row crops, prairies, forest fragments, and residential neighborhoods. The mosquitoes were identified to species morphologically, and pools of pure and mixed Culex mosquitoes (primarily Culex pipiens and Culex restuans) were tested for WNV-RNA by qRT-PCR. Mosquito species diversity was significantly higher in forest habitats compared to residential, agricultural, and prairie land use categories. All the four landscape types were equally important habitats for WNV vectors Cx. pipiens and Cx. restuans, contrary to previous findings that these species principally inhabit the residential areas. WNV-infected mosquito pools were observed in all land use types, and the infection rates overlapped among land use categories. Although our findings support the importance of residential habitats for WNV transmission to humans, they also establish that prairie, row crops, and wood lots are potentially important refuges for enzootic transmission. This is particularly important in urban ecosystems where these land use categories are small, interspersed fragments serving as potential refuge sites during periods of low rainfall.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)338-345
Number of pages8
JournalVector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2014


  • Culex pipiens
  • Culex restuans
  • Land use
  • West Nile virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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