The following is offered to help predict when Culex tarsalis, the vector for West Nile Virus, will begin to fly across the Canadian prairies. This week, regions most advanced in degree-day accumulations for Culex tarsalis are shown in Figure 1 but the unusual heat across the prairies greatly accelerated mosquito development!
As of August 21, 2022 and where present, C. tarsalis development has progressed. Remember, areas highlighted yellow have accumulated sufficient heat units for the second generation of C. tarsalis to fly. Many areas of the prairies well exceed the 250-300 DD of base 14.3 °C (e.g., areas orange red any any shade of pink) represented in Figure 1. Outdoor enthusiasts falling within areas highlighted yellow, orange, red or pink should wear DEET to protect against WNV! Historically, southern and central regions of the Canadian prairies are at increased risk for WNV from late July but typically peaks over the long weekend in August.
For those following the specifics of the mosquito host-WNV interaction, Figure 2 projects how many days it will take a C. tarsalis female to become fully infective and be able to transmit the virus to another host (bird or human) once the virus is acquired from another bird. This represents the extrinsic incubation period (EIP) of the virus within the mosquito. Figure 2 projects the EIP was approximately 12-14 days in areas highlighted mauve and approximately 22-24 days in areas highlighted light green.
The above maps should be compared with historical confirmed cases of WNV. The Public Health Agency of Canada posts information related to West Nile Virus in Canada and also tracks West Nile Virus through human, mosquito, bird and horse surveillance. Link here to access their most current weekly update (reporting date August 13, 2022; retrieved August 26, 2022) and provided below.
Bird surveillance continues to be an important way to detect and monitor West Nile Virus. The Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative (CWHC) works with governmental agencies (i.e., provincial laboratories and the National Microbiology Laboratory) and other organizations to report the occurrence of WNV. Dead birds retrieved from areas of higher risk of West Nile Virus are tested for the virus. A screenshot of the latest reporting results posted by Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative is below (retrieved 25Aug2022).
Anyone keen to identify mosquitoes will enjoy this pictorial key for both larvae and adults which is posted on the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) website but sadly lacks a formal citation other than “MOSQUITOES: CHARACTERISTICS OF ANOPHELINES AND CULICINES prepared by Kent S. Littig and Chester J. Stojanovich” and includes Pages 134-150. The proper citation may be Stojanovich, Chester J. & Louisiana Mosquito Control Association. (1982). Mosquito control training manual. pp 152.