I bet you would be surprised to learn that since we began to collect "Mosquito Habitat Mapper" data (5/29/2017), we have had over 20,915 observations submitted! Think about how significant that number is for a tool that has only been available for less than three years!
As many of us who live in the northern hemisphere begin to see signs of spring arriving- robins, crocuses, leaf buds on the trees, and warmer weather- we know that we will also see adult mosquitoes before too long. While there are over 3,500 species of mosquitoes, only about 100 of those species are actually dangerous to humans. When we are bit by a mosquito, it is the adult female with eggs who bites us. Both male and female mosquitoes get their food from pollen, but the female needs a blood meal to supply her eggs with protein so they will be viable.
When we get bit by mosquitoes, that is when we can contract a disease. With the "Mosquito Habitat Mapper", you are helping to reduce the threat of mosquito-transmitted disease across the globe! There are four easy steps in this tool, and you do not have to do them all for you to be helping.
The first step is to become aware of standing water- as that is the most likely place a mosquito will lay her eggs. If you see standing water, take a picture of the container- an old tire, a plastic cup, a gutter or ditch, and so on. Just by getting in the habit of taking pictures and being aware of these potential mosquito breeding habitats is one of the most important steps we can take to reduce the threat of mosquito-transmitted disease.
The second step, if you see any larvae in the standing water, is to dip a cup or ladle into the water and take out a "sample" You can take this sample inside, away from the hot weather and possibly adult mosquitoes looking for a blood meal! Now count how many larvae you see in your cup or container. If you see any eggs- they are pretty hard to see but you might see some- count how many eggs, how many larvae, and also see if you see any pupae.
The third step is pretty neat. To do this step, you will need an inexpensive cell phone magnifier which helps you magnify the mosquito larvae to see if it has key features of the "vector" species that we are looking for. We are interested in knowing where these genera are found: Albopictus, Aedes, and Culex. While it can take a few minutes to identify the larva, it is really a fascinating process- and mosquito larvae can't hurt you at all. I do this step inside as well, and sometimes have to work with a couple of different larvae to get a good picture of the larvae and the main characteristics that we are looking for in the dichotomous key.
Finally, the last step is to empty the water- eliminate the potential mosquito breeding habitat. Remember you do not have to do all four steps to be an active participant. Just recognizing and eliminating potential mosquito breeding habitats is a huge step in making a really big difference around the world.