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FALL 2011
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CALS Notes

Experts Warn of Bedbug, Mosquito Invasions

By Krishna Ramanujan

Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann
Credit: Mark Lawrence

Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann briefing Congressional staffers.

Laura Harrington
Credit: Mark Lawrence

Laura Harrington briefing Congressional staffers.

Cornell bug experts created a buzz on Capitol Hill warning a swarm of media and Congressional and Senate staff about bedbug and mosquito invasions.

The Washington briefing by entomologists Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann, PhD ’99, and Laura Harrington was organized by CALS in partnership with Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future and the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station.

Gangloff-Kaufmann said the resurgence of bedbugs in the last decade could be due to home-use bans on several insecticides and an increase in global travel.

The bugs are particularly hard to get rid of when they infest multiple-family apartment buildings. The poor and elderly may especially feel the bite, because state-of-the-art heat treatments can cost up to $3,000 for a one-bedroom apartment, Gangloff-Kaufmann said. Even though bedbugs often carry a stigma of poverty and filth, their resurgence probably began in the upscale travel and hotel industry.

Harrington noted an increase in mosquito-transmitted diseases worldwide due to increased global travel, failures of public health and mosquito control programs, and climate changes that alter mosquito ecology and habitats.
Asian tiger and Asian bush mosquitoes, for example, can transmit more than 22 different disease-causing viruses and are on the rise in the United States. West Nile virus has spread throughout the country, and there have been recent outbreaks of dengue fever in Florida and Hawaii.

Harrington conducts research on the reproductive biology of mosquitoes to develop new biological control methods that reduce egg production and curb the female’s appetite for blood.