In the northeast United States (U.S.), mosquitoes transmit a number of arboviruses, including eastern equine encephalitis, Jamestown Canyon, and West Nile that pose an annual threat to human and animal health. Local transmission of each arbovirus may be driven by the involvement of multiple mosquito species; however, the specificity of these vector-virus associations has not been fully quantified.


We used long-term surveillance data consistently collected over 18 years to evaluate mosquito and arbovirus community composition in the State of Connecticut (CT) based on land cover classifications and mosquito species-specific natural histories using community ecology approaches available in the R package VEGAN. We then used binomial-error generalized linear mixed effects models to quantify species-specific trends in arbovirus detections.

Primary results

The composition of mosquito communities throughout CT varied more among sites than among years, with variation in mosquito community composition among sites explained mostly by a forested-to-developed-land-cover gradient. Arboviral communities varied equally among sites and years, and only developed and forested wetland land cover classifications were associated with the composition of arbovirus detections among sites. Overall, the avian host arboviruses, mainly West Nile and eastern equine encephalitis, displayed the most specific associations among mosquito species and sites, while in contrast, the mammalian host arboviruses (including Cache Valley, Jamestown Canyon, and Potosi) associated with a more diverse mix of mosquito species and were widely distributed throughout CT.


We find that avian arboviruses act as vector specialists infecting a few key mosquito species that associate with discrete habitats, while mammalian arboviruses are largely vector generalists infecting a wide diversity of mosquito species and habitats in the region. These distinctions have important implications for the design and implementation of mosquito and arbovirus surveillance programs as well as mosquito control efforts.

Credit: CDC

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Citation: McMillan JR, Armstrong PM, Andreadis TG (2020) Patterns of mosquito and arbovirus community composition and ecological indexes of arboviral risk in the northeast United States. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 14(2): e0008066. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0008066