SEES 2022: Effects of Sunlight and Container Size on Mosquito Oviposition

Guest blog: Raymond L.

Initial Setup
I decided to test how sunlight and container size would effect mosquito oviposition both in terms of how many larvae and what type of larvae are found in each container.

Testing For Sunlight
I found two locations in the same neighborhood with very different levels of sunlight.
My first location is a sunny and open back yard (with my cat):

My second location is a shady backyard near a golf course:

Testing For Container Size
At both locations I placed a 5 gallon home depot bucket and half of a plastic water bottle to compare the effect of container sizes. I filled both containers to around the halfway mark, and put just enough compost to cover the bottom of each container.

Getting Compost:

Traps at sunny location:

Traps at shady location:


Week 1:
I only found 1 larvae in my sunny 5 gallon trap, and I identified it as Culex, and most likely the Common House Mosquito (Culex pipiens) based on New Jersey mosquito data.


I found many larvae in my shady 5 gallon trap, likely a few hundred total. I took 3 samples of around 20 larvae each and identified them to be Culex and probably Culex pipiens again.

I did not find any larvae in my plastic bottle traps. I can think of two reasons for this, one is mosquitos prefer larger bodies of water, the other is mosquitos prefer cooler water. The second reason is not one of my experimental variables, however since the bottles are clear the water heats up very easily and the water in them was warm.

Week 2:
I found much more larvae in my sunny 5 gallon trap this time, likely around 50-100 total. I sampled around 10 larvae in each of my three samples and I am fairly confident they are the same species I found in week 1. They moved the same twitchy way and looked the same. One interesting note is these larvae looked around the same size as the one larvae I found in week 1. This is probably because they are from a new generation and not just the old larvae grown up.

In my shady 5 gallon trap I found less than week 1 but still plenty, with a total of 100-200 larvae. My samples found around 15 per cup scoop and they were definitely the same species as last time. However unlike the sunny location, the larvae here were significantly larger than week 1, leading me to believe they are the same larvae just grown up.


I once again did not find any larvae in the two bottle traps. This time the sunny bottle trap had mostly dried up, with some of the compost on the bottom showing above the water line.

Conclusions So Far
So far I've found that mosquitos definitely like shadier and larger bodies of water. It is possible that temperature is actually what impacts oviposition since both larger and shadier water bodies tend to be cooler. On top of that it looks like my area only has Culex pipiens since I haven't seen a single larvae of another species.

​​​​​​​About the author: Raymond is a student from West Windsor, NJ. This blog describes a mosquito trapping experiment conducted as part of the NASA STEM Enhancement in the Earth Sciences (SEES) summer high school research internship. His 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 US high school ( Raymond shared his experience this summer in this blog post.

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