It is the middle of winter here in Maryland, and it is cold! We had a lot of snow last week, and are expecting more precipitation later this week. Even though I know we have no active mosquitoes outside, I am still using the GLOBE Observer Mosquito Habitat Mapper. If you are also living somewhere where mosquitoes aren't currently active, we hope you will consider collecting data as well, so you will be prepared when active mosquito season arrives.
Wondering what kind of data you can collect when there are no active mosquitoes? Great question! There are four steps that you can take when using this app, but you don't need to do all four of these each time. The first step is to identify and take a picture of a potential mosquito breeding habitat. Unfortunately, there are plenty of these just about everywhere you go. Mosquitoes are looking for standing water to lay their eggs in, and these can be both artificial and natural sources. Natural sources include still lakes, ponds, swamps, and still water that may be found next to rivers and streams. Artificial breeding habitats can include such things as bird baths, discarded trash, old tires, animal water bowls, and a wide variety of other sources.
Here is one of the observations that I did this past weekend while visiting the Chesapeake Bay. In this case, I took a picture of the bird bath with the standing water, and noted that there were no larvae at this time. I was able to empty the water out, and thus completed two of the four possible steps for using this app.
I also found a ditch from car tracks that was filled with water. You can see my data below, and note that I wasn't able to empty this water. This is still useful data, as public health officials may want to take note of the various potential mosquito breeding habitats in this area before the mosquitoes become active, so they can effectively treat the standing water in these ditches if necessary.
Another potential source that I found was the ditch on the side of the road. Again, I couldn't eliminate this water source, but it is useful to note that it is a source of standing water that will quite likely be teaming with mosquito larvae when the weather warms up in the late spring.
I also found a discarded plastic cup on the side of the road that was filled with water. By identifying these pieces of trash and eliminating them before active mosquito season, we can all be proactive in reducing the threat of mosquito-transmitted disease in our regions!
So remember to use the GLOBE Observer Mosquito Habitat Mapper throughout the year and to submit your data to GLOBE. Want to learn more? Join us this Wednesday, Jan. 23rd at 7 PM (UTC)/ 2 PM (EDT) to find out how this app is being used in libraries, schools, and in conjunction with other GLOBE Observer tools, such as the "land cover" tool, and with other GLOBE protocols to conduct science investigations.