In the battle against mosquitoes, allies come in all shapes and sizes. Species of birds, bats, and dragonflies are well known enemies of the mosquito. But did you know that one species of mosquito is on our side? The Mosquito Assassin is a proven and effective predator of the Asian tiger, southern house, and yellow fever mosquito larvae, best known for their spread of infectious and tropical diseases.

In its adult phase, the Mosquito Assassin only pollinates flowers – never taking a blood meal. Native to southeastern United States, the Mosquito Assassin (also called the predatory tree hole mosquito) is found in the heavily treed areas of Harris County.

Harris County Precinct 4 explores how these predatory allies can be used successfully as potential biological agents to control pest mosquito populations. Recent field studies in Louisiana revealed that the release of Mosquito Assassin ?followed by ultra-low-volume insecticide application reduced the target pest population by 98%, whereas the insecticide application by itself provided only a 29% reduction.

Effective integrated mosquito control involves preventing egg-laying habitats, promoting natural enemies, releasing biological control agents, and utilizing biological larvicides whenever possible, as well as the application of conventional adulticides when necessary.

Precinct 4’s mosquito research program works to develop new protocols to produce large numbers of native assassin mosquitoes for expanded releases in Harris County. The program mission is to locate, identify, and produce effective biological control agents for integrated mosquito management programs.

Internships

Summer internship applications are accepted yearly during the spring.

HCP4 Biological Control Initiative is seeking seasonal (i.e., ~3 months) technicians for the summer season. Start date will be flexible, but availability from early May through mid-August is necessary. This is an hourly position and includes insectary as well as field work.

Summer Intern Job Description

Internship Application

Native Mosquito Assassin

Toxorhynchites rutilus

The Native Mosquito Assassin does not take a bloodmeal and is unable to bite people or animals. In its larval form, it preys upon the larvae of other mosquito species and in its adult form, it feeds on the nectar of flowering plants.

 

Halloween Pennant Dragonfly

Celithemis eponina

Dragonfly and
damselfly larvae feed on mosquito larvae, and adult dragonflies feed on adult mosquitoes, making these insects leading natural predators of disease-spreading mosquitoes.

 

Predacious Copepods

Macrocyclops albidus

This cyclopoid copepod inhabits temperate regions in still, fresh waters such as roadside ditches and ponds. Though considered member of zooplankton, it feeds on mosquito larvae and has proven highly efficient as a biocontrol agent.

Parasitoid Nematodes

Romanomermis culicivorax

Belonging to the Mermithidae family, this small roundworm is entomopathogenic—exclusively infecting and killing mosquito larvae before they become biting adults.

Bladderwort

Utricularia spp.

Rootless, aquatic carnivorous plants that grow in still inland waters. The plant sports tiny “bladders” with which it captures and digests tiny aquatic creatures, including mosquito larvae. This adaptation facilitates its survival in nutrient-scarce environments.

Asian Tiger Mosquito

Aedes albopictus

Effective integrated mosquito control involves preventing egg-laying habitats, promoting natural enemies, releasing biological control agents, and utilizing biological larvicides whenever possible, as well as the application of conventional adulticides when necessary.

Southern House Mosquito

Culex quinquefasciatus Say

Effective integrated mosquito control involves preventing egg-laying habitats, promoting natural enemies, releasing biological control agents, and utilizing biological larvicides whenever possible, as well as the application of conventional adulticides when necessary.

Yellow Fever Mosquito

Aedes aegypti

Effective integrated mosquito control involves preventing egg-laying habitats, promoting natural enemies, releasing biological control agents, and utilizing biological larvicides whenever possible, as well as the application of conventional adulticides when necessary.