Thom Dallimore and Dr Clare Strode
Mosquitoes have a reputation that surpasses almost all other insects. Infamous as a biting pest, and for the devastation to human health caused by the transmission of parasites and infections such Malaria, Dengue Fever and West Nile Virus. The preconceived image of the mosquito often overshadows other aspects of mosquito life history, including their ecology, distribution and fascinating taxonomy. There are 34 known species of mosquito in the UK, some of which are known to be feeders of avian and mammal blood (including that of humans) and have been brandished as pest species.
However, it is often overlooked that most Culicidae are also nectar feeders and play a functional role in ecosystems as pollinators and filter feeders during larval development. They are also a food source for other species of invertebrate and small mammals such as bats.
Despite their high profile in human health research, relatively little is known about the species that are endemic to the UK. Edge Hill University is working with the Field Studies Council (FSC) to develop and publish a comprehensive and fully illustrated dichotomous key to the adult, pupae and larval stages of mosquitoes in Great Britain. Importantly the publication will also include species that have the potential to enter the UK as either pests, or through expanding their ranges. The book will also contain the current state of knowledge of taxonomic status, distribution of species and descriptions of behaviour and ecology. It will also include a novel section of genetic references on British mosquito taxonomy.
This publication will be targeted at amateur and professional entomologists, researchers, as well those working in the veterinary and medical practice wishing to identify problem species.
We are also hoping to develop a digital version of the key which can be downloadable from the internet.
This work is also being carried out with the support of British museum’s collections including, Liverpool World Museum and the Natural History Museum London.