New key to help identify disease carrying mosquitos

The publication of a new key could help health officials identify mosquitos carrying Zika and dengue.

RNZ reports the spread of mosquito borne diseases such as Zika, dengue and chikungunya is a persistent problem for Pacific countries with the number of cases on the rise.

New Zealander Tom Swan completed his Masters in biological sciences at the University of Canterbury and recently returned from a Fulbright scholarship trip to the United States to research mosquitos.

He said he hoped the identification key would be used by Pacific governments to identify mosquito larvae and then educate the public.

"Interestingly when I was in Tonga, a lot of people didn't realise that the mosquito larvae which is called 'ikeikaavai in Tongan, evolved and metamorphosed into the adult, the namu mosquito and that the namu was what bit you and was capable of spreading diseases," he said.

The key has been published in the New Zealand Entomologist journal.