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Knoxville — A University of Tennessee entomologist said mosquito populations should be large and healthy in Tennessee this summer.

But Reid Gerhardt said those large numbers of mosquitoes increase the risk of disease.

“It appears now that the two mosquitoes we have in Tennessee, the Eastern tree hole mosquito and the Asian tiger mosquito, are disease vectors,” Gerhardt said.

Gerhardt said both mosquitoes have been linked to the disease LaCrosse encephalitis, which has been found in Tennessee.

New York City suffered through an outbreak of West Nile encephalitis last summer. Health officials determined the virus was spread by mosquito bites.

“We are looking at overall population levels of mosquitoes, but specifically the Eastern tree hole and Asian tiger mosquitoes,” Gerhardt said. “We collect larvae from traps and we also breed them in the laboratory to study the viruses they carry.”

Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water found inside abandoned tires, flowerpots, and dead tree stumps.