About The DERC
Dr. McKenzie’s lab is in Florida. She and her team are currently working on expanding the lab to test more products at the same time. Right now, the lab has multiple test rooms and a colony room, both temperature and humidity-controlled.
Fun Fact About Dr. McKenzie
Dr. McKenzie seems to have been destined for a career working with mosquitoes as she does not react to Aedes aegypti mosquito bites! This is due to an immune response within her and a tolerance that has been built up by the numerous mosquito bites she has experienced throughout her years researching. Different types of mosquitoes have different proteins in their saliva that cause different reactions for certain people. Fortunately for Dr. McKenzie, mosquito’s attraction to her is relatively low.
About Dr. McKenzie, Medical Entomologist
Dr. McKenzie is a well-respected Entomologist in her field. Karen McKenzie received her PhD in Medical and Veterinary Entomology from the University of Florida in 2003. She currently resides in Melbourne, FL where she and her staff conduct research at our Dynamic Entomology Research Center. Her knowledge, combined with her passion for improving mosquito and insect control are the reason Dynamic Solutions Worldwide, LLC can provide our customers with research-tested solutions for insect control.
Dr. McKenzie’s Passion
What Karen loves about her job is the ability to assist in creating something helpful for the general population. She loves that her work helps decrease disease and other issues caused by mosquitoes. In fact, she is so interested in helping prevent problems with mosquitoes that she has gone to Africa multiple times to research what needs to be done. Dr. McKenzie believes in insect traps and that they can help lessen the issues caused by mosquitoes. She has believed this since her days researching insect traps back in graduate school.
All About Mosquitoes
All About Flies
Freq. Asked Questions
About Dr. McKenzie’s Testing
At Dynamic Solutions Worldwide, LLC, Dr. McKenzie and her team are responsible for testing all DynaTrap Mosquito and Insect Traps, along with similar products in the market to create a relative comparison. Through her methods, she uses statistical testing to compare and rank each trap’s performance. Each test performed follows the same protocol to ensure fairness and consistency for each product being tested. Tests are performed in a temperature and humidity-controlled room, to ensure consistent environmental conditions for each. A set number of insects are then released in the room with the trap and left overnight. The next day Dr. McKenzie and her team count how many insects are caught in the trap versus how many are recovered. Why do they compare to how many insects are recovered? It is because the insects find ways of escaping and recovering the same amount as released would be nearly impossible; for example, some may die before having a chance to be trapped. This test is then repeated three times with different insect batches to eliminate the chance that a specific result occurred because the insects were from the same “family” or age group. During testing, Dr. McKenzie gives the mosquitoes water to control the chance that they are just trying to get away to stay hydrated, this also helps keep them alive. Dr. McKenzie is adamant that the trapping data must be statistically significant in order to consider a trap truly better or worse than another one. Fun fact: older mosquitoes are more likely to be trapped because they are in a hurry to find a food source and reproduce before death.
Dr. McKenzie’s Success
Dr. McKenzie’s dissertation was about proving that mosquitoes have differential selection in choosing who they bite. Mosquitoes come first for CO2 and heat, then select the host with the most benefit for them and the least risk. It has been proven that insects intentionally starved of nutrients required for essential functions will preferentially choose a diet that has been supplemented with the nutrient they are missing. She believes mosquitoes do this to mitigate their risk; meaning, if the mosquito bites the right host with the proper nutrients on the first try, it won’t have to bite again and risk getting swatted and killed. Mosquitoes require cholesterol from blood to successfully reproduce. Therefore, Dr. McKenzie theorizes that mosquitoes will choose the host that smells like they have the highest signature of cholesterol in their blood. This theory developed during routine testing with her professor when he suddenly became less attractive to mosquitoes because he was put on an anti-cholesterol medication. After identifying this, Dr. McKenzie continued researching to gain further insight on her theory.
Click image to see full study
Dr. McKenzie’s Mosquito Outlook
As an entomologist specializing in biting insects, Karen’s outlook on the future of mosquitoes is that they will remain prevalent, even with actions being taken to reduce their population. Currently, new control methods are being developed, like genetically modifying mosquitoes to reduce the population. However, society’s fear of genetic modification will slow the mass implementation of it, and Karen anticipates it will not work as well as many hope it will. The genetic modification of mosquitoes includes a gene called a “self-limiting” gene, where many male mosquitoes with this gene are released into the wild. Those males breed with the local wild female mosquitoes and the resulting offspring only make it to a certain stage of development, dying before reaching the adult stage.Scientists are also investigating the use of bacteria in mosquitoes to control their population. Bacteria that can either kill the mosquito or take up so much space within the mosquito that there is no room for the disease organisms, limiting what can be transmitted to humans. Dr. McKenzie notes that mosquito populations are so numerous and happen so quickly, that they are going to mutate and find a way around our interventions, it is just a matter of time. The diseases transmitted by mosquitoes will mutate along with the mosquitoes. For example, Anopheles mosquitoes, in some regions, have adjusted their feeding time to feed while people are still awake and moving around because of the prevalent use of bed nets at nighttime. This mutation is likely caused by the malaria virus so it can be transmitted. Dr. McKenzie believes that mosquitoes and their diseases will continue to remain a challenging and everchanging problem to remedy.
Heartworm and Dogs
Heartworm is transmitted to dogs by mosquitoes that have picked up microfilaria from other heartworm-positive dogs. Only certain mosquitoes can transmit heartworms. Mosquitoes eventually die when heartworm microfilaria is transmitted to animals. The microfilaria rupture through the mosquito’s salivary glands and slide down the proboscis into the hole just created by the mosquito bite. Adult heartworms in dogs live within the existing structure, the vessels and ventricles of the heart, they do not make new holes. Luckily, heartworms are curable; medication causes the worms to slowly disintegrate in the blood and be filtered out naturally by the body. Dr. McKenzie recommends keeping your pets on heartworm prevention medication to keep them safe – every month is best.
Dr. McKenzie’s Mosquito Prevention Tips
- Wear insect repellent, Picaridin. It is less harmful than DEET. DEET is a harsh chemical because it eats plastics.
- Wear light colored clothing with long sleeves.
- Fans work great to blow mosquitoes out of an area.
- Use an insect trap.