Effective population size of Culex quinquefasciatus under insecticide-based vector management and following Hurricane Harvey in Harris County, Texas. Academic Article uri icon


  • Introduction: Culex quinquefasciatus is a mosquito species of significant public health importance due to its ability to transmit multiple pathogens that can cause mosquito-borne diseases, such as West Nile fever and St. Louis encephalitis. In Harris County, Texas, Cx. quinquefasciatus is a common vector species and is subjected to insecticide-based management by the Harris County Public Health Department. However, insecticide resistance in mosquitoes has increased rapidly worldwide and raises concerns about maintaining the effectiveness of vector control approaches. This concern is highly relevant in Texas, with its humid subtropical climate along the Gulf Coast that provides suitable habitat for Cx. quinquefasciatus and other mosquito species that are known disease vectors. Therefore, there is an urgent and ongoing need to monitor the effectiveness of current vector control programs. Methods: In this study, we evaluated the impact of vector control approaches by estimating the effective population size of Cx. quinquefasciatus in Harris County. We applied Approximate Bayesian Computation to microsatellite data to estimate effective population size. We collected Cx. quinquefasciatus samples from two mosquito control operation areas; 415 and 802, during routine vector monitoring in 2016 and 2017. No county mosquito control operations were applied at area 415 in 2016 and 2017, whereas extensive adulticide spraying operations were in effect at area 802 during the summer of 2016. We collected data for eighteen microsatellite markers for 713 and 723 mosquitoes at eight timepoints from 2016 to 2017 in areas 415 and 802, respectively. We also investigated the impact of Hurricane Harvey's landfall in the Houston area in August of 2017 on Cx. quinquefasciatus population fluctuation. Results: We found that the bottleneck scenario was the most probable historical scenario describing the impact of the winter season at area 415 and area 802, with the highest posterior probability of 0.9167 and 0.4966, respectively. We also detected an expansion event following Hurricane Harvey at area 802, showing a 3.03-fold increase in 2017. Discussion: Although we did not detect significant effects of vector control interventions, we found considerable influences of the winter season and a major hurricane on the effective population size of Cx. quinquefasciatus. The fluctuations in effective population size in both areas showed a significant seasonal pattern. Additionally, the significant population expansion following Hurricane Harvey in 2017 supports the necessity for post-hurricane vector-control interventions.

published proceedings

  • Front Genet

author list (cited authors)

  • Huang, X., Athrey, G. N., Kaufman, P. E., Fredregill, C., & Slotman, M. A.

complete list of authors

  • Huang, Xinyue||Athrey, Giridhar N||Kaufman, Phillip E||Fredregill, Chris||Slotman, Michel A

publication date

  • January 2023