Open Access Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
Urmi Engineer Willoughby
© 2023 Benjamin Willett
This thesis investigates how the growth of mosquito populations within the United States, and California specifically, poses unique threats both to public health and socio- political conditions. Mosquito species that are native to the country, Anopheles punctipennis (An. Punctipennis) and Anopheles freeborni (An. freeborni) exist in a uniquely threatening position, bolstered by the introduction of invasive species (Ae. aegypti) and Aedes albopictus (Ae. albopictus). A focus on tracing introductions of invasive species and the resulting spread of zoonotic diseases such as yellow fever, dengue, and chikungunya are valuable indicators of how the insects are influenced by human actions. This relationship between humans and these four mosquito populations in the United States is explored through historical events such as environmental change in an effort to maximize potential of irrigation in the early twentieth century, disease eradication through disease vector eradication throughout the twentieth century, and education surrounding risks posed by the insect in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. As climate change brings about possible ecological change which might facilitate further opportunities for population growth and disease spread, the full capabilities of these species are highlighted, and with them, how factors such as nomenclature and racialized common names can contribute to even greater risks to human populations. Specifically, this thesis introduces discourse around the common name of Ae. albopictus being the “Asian Tiger Mosquito,” and how this racial relation of the invasive disease vector indicates the potential for increased anti-Asian racism in the United States.
Willett, Benjamin, "Miniscule and Might Predators: A Cautionary Tale of the Power of Mosquitoes in California and the Greater United States" (2023). Pitzer Senior Theses. 147.