DLNR News Release-Kaua’i Mosquito Surveys Teams Leading the Way in Avian Malaria Detection
Posted on Sep 7, 2022 in Latest news from the department, Press room
(Koke’e, Kaua’i) – Allie Cabrera describes herself as the ‘queen of the road’, due to her almost daily trips from Līhuʻe, Koke’e State Park and Camp 10 Road. She could also be described as Kaua’i’s current “mosquito trapping queen.”
As a field associate for the Kaua’i Forest Bird Recovery Project (KFBRP), Cabrera spends her days checking two types of mosquito traps and visiting pools of standing water to catch insects and treat nests. potholes, ditches and other stagnant. bodies of water to kill any mosquito larvae they harbor.
“My main objective is to monitor the abundance and distribution of southern house mosquito, which is the species that transmits avian malaria,” Cabrera explained. Disease-carrying mosquitoes are responsible for the perilous state of the Hawaiian vine, akikiki, which numbers fewer than 40 individuals in the wild.
The KFBRP has been at the forefront of mosquito data collection for more than a decade, building on a data set previously collected by the US Geological Survey. KFBRP Project Manager Dr Lisa, ‘Cali’ Crampton, said: ‘Kaua’i, being a low lying island, was seen as the canary in the coal mine for the advance of avian malaria in the forest bird habitat. Other projects on other islands were in areas where native forest birds were considered more out of reach of avian malaria, so they started their survey programs later than ours.
On Kaua’i, Maui and Hawai’i Island, mosquito trapping investigations now have a sense of urgency, with three honey species (‘akikiki, ‘akeke’e, kiwikiu) on the precipice of extinction in the wild in less than five years. years. Several other creeper species are not far behind.
“Once upon a time you would have found ‘akikiki in our forests. When I first joined this project (KFBRP) in 2010, you could frequently see the birds on the famous Alaka’i Swamp Walk, and now they have retreated to the deeper mountainous regions and more remote areas, largely due to mosquito-borne diseases,” Crampton added.
Statewide, in forests and on some private lands, teams are using two types of traps to help inform potential landscape-scale mosquito management. One is a carbon dioxide trap that attracts female mosquitoes looking for blood, and the other is called a gravid trap, which uses a stinky water solution to trap mosquitoes that are ready to lay eggs.
Currently on Kaua’i, the KFBRP team is using eight traps of each type at three different locations. Once a woman southern house mosquito is trapped by one or another type of trap, they are placed in small test tubes. Samples are sent to laboratories where they are tested for the presence of avian malaria.
Crampton noted: “When we started this, there wasn’t a lot of avian malaria on the Alaka’i plateau… zero in ten mosquitoes, or maybe one in ten, were positive. Now we are seeing up to four out of ten tests for avian malaria now that disease momentum has started to pick up on the shelf.
Just last week, a single ‘akikiki was rescued from an area once populated by birds. The bird, named Carrot, is believed to be one of two remaining in an area that just seven years ago had more than 70 birds.
Mosquito trapping this year will help the group of governmental and non-governmental organizations that have come together as Birds, not mosquitoes decide how and where to distribute incompatible male mosquitoes in forest habitats most severely affected by avian malaria. Male mosquitoes do not bite or transmit disease, and when incompatible males breed with wild female mosquitoes, no viable eggs are produced. It is “mosquito birth control” that causes mosquito populations to decline.
Later this year, draft environmental assessments (EAs) are expected to be released, for public comment, on mosquito control projects in Kaua’i and Maui. The Kauaʻi project is offered by DLNR, while the Maui project is offered by the National Park Service and DLNR.
Cabrera said, “I feel proud and honored to do this work in such a special place. It means the world to me. I take this work very seriously because I think we are doing really important work and hopefully helping to save these forest birds.
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(All images/videos courtesy of DLNR)
HD Video – The fight against avian malaria begins with investigation and testing (web feature):
HD Video – Kaua’i Mosquito Trapping (August 25, 2022):
(Shooting sheet attached)
Photographs – Kaua’i Mosquito Trapping (August 25, 2022):
Senior Communications Manager
Hawaii Department of Lands and Natural Resources