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Elmer Gray

Elmer Gray serves as the Public Health Extension Specialist focusing primarily on mosquito-related issues and inquiries. Gray has been based on the Athens campus since 1999, where he also oversees and operates the NIH/NIAID supported Black Fly Research and Resource Center. Prior to the arrival of Covid-19, mosquitoes and the diseases they transmit were one of the primary insect-related, public health issues facing Georgians. Mosquitoes are commonly encountered pests across Georgia and the more integrated an approach that is used to suppress populations, the more effective the results. Pesticide resistance is a growing concern to the mosquito control industry and protecting our pollinators from unnecessary pesticide applications has never been more important.

In fulfillment of this role, Gray assists in a range of training opportunities for the mosquito/pest control industry, provides site evaluations and Integrated Pest Management based recommendations to specific mosquito-related problem sites, and answers a range of agent, media and public questions and inquiries. Gray serves on the Board of Directors of the Georgia Mosquito Control Association (GMCA). By working with the members of the GMCA, he stays in close communication with the various entities across the state who are involved in the day-to-day duties of mosquito surveillance and control. This communication keeps him informed of the changing conditions and populations of mosquitoes that the operators are facing daily. Gray uses this information to enhance the training and communication he provides to all entities.

He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Mosquito Beacons (Biodiversity, Enhancement and Control of Non-native Species) Working Group. This group is supported by the Southern Integrated Pest Management Center and consists of representatives from across the southeast. The impetus for this group is that some of our most problematic mosquito species are introduced pests and we have had several recent introductions across the region. By improving communication and surveillance activities, mosquito control entities will be better informed on how to handle future introductions.

In addition to his Extension duties,Gray has been involved in the fields of black fly rearing, research and control for many years. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Zoology and a Masters of Agriculture Degree in Medical and Veterinary Entomology at Clemson University under Dr. Ray Noblet. While working with Dr. Noblet at Clemson University, they initiated a branch of the Simulium vittatum black fly colony. Gray has been responsible for maintaining this colony since 1991 and it has been the only colony of black flies in the world for many years. As part of his black fly research and control experiences, Gray has collaborated with black fly suppression programs on three continents.

Gray is also proud to be the only recipient of Outstanding Staff Member awards from both Clemson University and the University of Georgia. Away from work he has coached many successful seasons of recreational softball with his two daughters and enjoys a wide range of outdoor activities.