Alumni, Breeds mosquitoes?

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Alumni, Breeds mosquitoes?

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As we enter fall, most people are excited to be rid of the pests and bugs of summer. Sick of scratching those mosquito bites? Well, Alumni Abigail Doniecki loves those mosquitos–they’re her job!

Alumni Abigail Doniecki graduated in 2013 and went on to graduate from Penn State in 2017.  

Doniecki was a mediocre student in high school she didn’t apply herself, but college required her to put in the extra effort she neglected in high school.

“College was a lot more difficult compared to highschool because it took a lot more diligence and self-determination. You were required to actually read your materials and textbooks. If you don’t, your grades would definitely reflect it,” said Doniecki.

In highschool she wanted to be a veterinarian, so in college she wanted to pursue that career path. “My original major prior to starting my first year (my pre-major) was veterinary medicine,” she said.

She ended up changing her major to genetics and developmental biology. “I thought the classes would be too hard when I saw the academic plan, but I wound up taking them anyway because I was a bio major,” said Doniecki.

In order to gain experience in her new major, she chose to participate in internships. ”I did an unpaid internship at an educational nature center where I was in charge of the butterfly house. I also was tasked with educating the general public on animal conservation efforts.”.

Once out of college, her internship working with Lepidoptera and her professionalism helped her get a job immediately after college. 

She works at Benzon Research, which is an entomology research lab located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

“I am currently a lab tech in charge of rearing three species of mosquitoes. Aedes aegypti (yellow fever mosquito), culex quinquefasciatus (west Nile mosquito), and Anopheles Its quadrimaculatus.(malaria mosquito). I also raise black house flies. We rear these mosquitoes for certain in-house research as well as shipping them out to universities and agricultural companies world wide for their own personal research,” explained Doniecki.

She breeds the mosquitoes and raises them for research she puts male and female mosquitoes together to mate. After mating a blood meal is given. They get the blood from a butcher shop more specifically cows blood. Once the blood meal has been digested by the females a certain chemical reaction simulti travel the body singling her to lay eggs.

”the eggs typically hatch whitin 24-48 hours of lying. At this stage the hatched mosquito egg aquatic and are referred to as larae.The larvae are then fed a high protein diet.After the pupae have when separated they are placed into a container where they will emerge into adult mosquitoes within 24-72 hours.” said Doniecki

Mosquitoes carry diseases and you might get nervous to contract them but Doniecki said “ I am not afraid of contacting any mosquito transmitted pathogens as our mosquitoes are sterile and are 100% safer than wild mosquitoes.”

She loves her career and is currently training to grow in the company. “I plan on being with my current company for the rest of my career. It is an excellent company, and I definitely have a different perspective of insects. While many people see a mosquito outside as being a nuisance, I’m the one standing there trying to identify the species of mosquito,” she said.