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Investigating Effective Mosquito Traps and Baits: Guest Scientist Blog by Aria T., 2020 NASA SEES Intern

I worked  with a team of four other SEES interns to conduct an investigation into mosquito larvae trapping. We chose to research  the effectiveness of mosquito larvae traps in different geographical areas, as we noticed that many of the interns were having trouble with capturing mosquito larvae in experimental traps. Moreover, understanding what type of traps and trap bait type most attracted mosquitoes could offer insight into why areas had significantly higher mosquito populations than others.

Array of experimental traps in WA
We conducted investigations in five different locations in the U.S: Oxford (OH), Austin (TX), Houston (TX), Carrollton (TX), and Seattle (WA). In each of these five locations, we set up nine different mosquito larvae traps with varying trap types and bait types. Some of the different trap types we tested were glass jars, 2L plastic bottles, and stadium cups with popsicle sticks. We also used different bait types such as distilled water, ditch water, and water infused with baking soda. This investigation was run for two weeks in late July, and each member of the team checked the traps daily to record for mosquito larvae found, logging observations using the GLOBE Observer Mosquito Habitat Mapper mobile app.

Our results:
We found that mosquito larvae were most frequently found in the traps where the bait was ditch water, followed by the vegetation-infused bait trap. In terms of trap type, the glass jar trap type was significantly more successful than any other trap type.

Additionally, we found that there was no significant difference in the trap preferences of the Aedes and Anopheles mosquito larvae we found. In terms of regional differences, the two sites of northern latitudes--Seattle and Oxford--caught much fewer mosquito larvae in the traps than the sites in Texas, likely due to the higher average temperature being more favorable to mosquitoes in Texas.

Future Research:
As our research was limited to two weeks and only 5 different sites, it could benefit from a much more in-depth cross comparative study across more regions of the United States. Future studies could also lengthen the study period to a much longer duration to a few months, or even a year, so as to gain a more comprehensive overview of how various species will interact with different baits and traps.

The data presented in this post are retrieved from our 2020 SEES Team Project, Determining the Best Trap and Bait for Mosquito Larvae Across the United States. Additionally, research contributions from my team members, Lucy W, Karis H, Sarah P, and Emily N are gratefully acknowledged as well as the continued support and help from our SEES mentors, Dr. Russanne Low, Peder Nelson, and Cassie Soeffing.

Aria T. is a high school student from Washington who is working on a research project this summer using the GLOBE Observer Mosquito Habitat Mapper. Her virtual internship is part of a collaboration between the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) and the NASA  Texas Space Grant Consortium (TSGC) to extend the TSGC Summer Enhancement in Earth Science (SEES) internship for U.S. high school (http://www.tsgc.utexas.edu/sees-internship/). She shares her experience this summer in this guest blog post.


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