SEES 2022: Testing the Effects on Sugar Concentration and Processing on Mosquitoes

Guest blog: Harshini K.


In this experiment, I used four traps with four different baits as such: Concentrated Processed Sugar (Gatorade), Less Concentrated Processed Sugar (Refined Sugar Dissolved in Water), Concentrated Less Processed Sugar (Honey Dissolved in Water), Less Concentrated and Less Processed Sugar (Coconut Water). This was of course was alongside the control trap, consisting solely of tap water. I placed all five traps in the same area - underneath a tree.

And thus, I hypothesized that the trap with the concentrated and less processed sugars would attract the most mosquitoes.

Results and Conclusions

Over the span of three weeks, all five traps attracted no mosquitoes at all. Rather, they attracted ants, bees, and spiders. The trap that attracted the most was the honey, as it was absolutely overrun with, mainly ants, but other organisms as well. The other two traps that attracted anything else were the refined sugar and Gatorade traps. The coconut water and control traps did not attract anything at all. However interestingly, after it rained the sugar trap did attract a frog.

Nevertheless, this experiment did not provide any data contributing to the hypothesis. But it did allow me to learn to take into account that there are in fact many ants in this area of interest. Thus, I would be able to proceed with another experiment with a slightly different approach.


Testing the Effects of Location and Bait on Mosquitoes 



In this second experiment, I tested three different baits: Sugar Dissolved in Water, Salt Dissolved in Water, and Grass with Water. This was of course with the control of only tap water. I made two of each trap to place them in two different locations as well. One of each was placed on a ledge, and though near grass, were pretty isolated from nature. The remaining were then placed underneath some plants and buried in the dirt. 

My hypothesis regarding these is such: the Saltwater trap that is buried in the dirt will attract the most out of all traps, and the traps that are buried in the dirt in general will attract more than those on the ledge.

Results and Conclusions

Within the three weeks of setting this experiment up, like the previous experiment, there were no mosquitoes caught in the traps whatsoever. Possibly due to the lack of sugar as well, there were no other animals attracted to the traps either. Thus, this experiments did not contribute to the hypothesis either.

One thing that I did notice that might have been relevant to the lack of mosquitoes, however, is the fact that each time I came to check the traps, much of the water was often evaporated. For that reason, I would try to replenish the amount of water. But this possibly goes to show that due to how arid and dry it has been in San Antonio, there was not an abundance of mosquitoes.

About the author: Harshini​​​​​​​ K. high school student. This 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 ( Harshini shared this summer experience in this blog post.

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