The species, Aedes scapularis, was predominately found in South and Central America, as well as the Caribbean islands, but it recently became established in South Florida for the first time, according to a study published in the journal Insects, part of the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute.
Scientists are now tracking the species see how it spreads throughout the state, as at least 16 counties in Florida, as well as parts Texas and along the Gulf Coast, have been predicted to be “highly suitable” for it to thrive.
In Brazil, the mosquitos have been found to be infected with diseases such as the yellow fever virus and the Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus.
The mosquito feeds on both animals and humans, posing the possibility of a spillover event, which involves a virus overcoming barriers to become feasible in another species. Researchers believe the COVID-19 pandemic is the result of a spillover event, after the virus was reportedly transferred from bats to humans.
Climate change also plays a factor, scientists said. As the global temperature warms, the geographical area where the species can thrive may increase, creating a larger area in which to spread disease.