Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2023

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Ecology and Environmental Sciences


Allison Gardner

Second Committee Member

Sandra De Urioste-Stone

Third Committee Member

Linda Silka


Mosquitoes are ubiquitous pests and infectious disease vectors. However, not all mosquito species bite humans, or are competent pathogen vectors between bloodmeal hosts. Along with climatic variables like temperature and rainfall, mosquito species distribution is determined by aquatic habitat availability for juvenile mosquito development, and terrestrial habitat and host availability for adult mosquitoes. There is variation in the preferred aquatic habitat for gravid female oviposition and subsequent larval development. Some mosquito species’ oviposition and development are associated with ephemeral water sources (e.g., floodplains), others prefer more permanent water sources (e.g., bogs or vernal pools). Other mosquitoes have evolved to occupy small, artificial water containers (e.g., buckets, tires) that are associated with human-dominated areas. These environmental factors are impacted by human processes like agriculture and urbanization and affect human exposure to mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases (MBD). Human exposure is also affected by mosquito control (e.g., spraying pesticides, emptying water containers) or personal protective behaviors (e.g., using mosquito repellent, wearing protective clothing). This interaction of human and environmental factors that affect mosquito habitat allows us to approach this system using a social-ecological systems (SES) framework. Social-ecological approaches call for the components within a system and the relationships between them to be examined from an integrated perspective including cultural, political, economic and ecological viewpoints across spatial scales. The One Health framework is an SES which considers the health of animals, humans and the environment as interconnected and dependent on one another. The ecology of vector-borne diseases, and mosquito ecology specifically, are relevant topics for application of the One Health model due to the interactions of human and environmental variables. In this thesis, mosquito species distribution was examined at 40 sites across an urban to rural gradient and recreational parks in Bangor, Maine to understand how mosquito distribution is affected by land use in this region. Additionally, a Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices survey was distributed among participants at the 30 residential study sites to understand factors that affect engagement in mosquito control and personal protective behaviors. A mosquito habitat assessment was conducted at each participant’s property to integrate the analysis of social and ecological variables. Results show that mosquito abundance was significantly different across land use categories. Mosquito abundance was highest in recreational parks and rural residential areas. Among residential categories, rural sites had the most nuisance species mosquitoes, and the least vector species mosquitoes. Urban residential sites had the lowest mosquito abundance, but highest vector species abundance. Participant knowledge level was not associated with the amount of aquatic habitat suitable for larval mosquitoes, and participants were likely report mosquitoes as a nuisance on their properties, but unlikely to engage in control practices. These results indicate a possible mismatch between mosquito exposure, mosquito perceptions and engagement in control behaviors, which warrants further study. This thesis adds to a limited body of literature which examine mosquitoes from a social and ecological perspective in the United States, and this integrated perspective is important for understanding, protecting and improving public health issues related to mosquitoes.