My mosquito trap experiment is testing the effects of different kinds of bait and locations on mosquitoes. I have set up three different traps in three different locations with three different kinds of bait.
Experiments and Hypotheses
This trap is located in my backyard, which has an abundance of wasps. I know that wasps are not predators of mosquitoes, but I believe that the presence of the large wasps might disrupt the mosquitoes. The bait used in this trap was initially watermelon juice which was then switched out with sugar water. Both of these baits provide sugar, which the mosquito is attracted to. I believe that mosquitoes might be attracted here, but not in large numbers.
The second trap is located at a school, behind some bushes. The main factors disrupting the mosquitoes will be the insecticide that is sprayed every week. This will definitely deter the mosquitoes from laying eggs in this trap. The bait for this trap is yeast and sugar. I decided to experiment with yeast because the carbohydrates that emerge from the bubbles of the yeast might fool the mosquitoes into believing that there are humans present. Sugar was added because the yeast needs it to be activated. I believe that this site will have the least amount of mosquito larvae because it is the only one that actively deters the mosquitoes from laying eggs.
The third trap is located in a park and the bait used was rice flour and water. The rice flour provides carbohydrates and sugar to the mosquitoes. I placed this trap in a part of the park that attracts a lot of wildlife but does not have a lot of human presence. I believe that this trap will attract the most amount of mosquitoes because the location is ideal for mosquitoes to thrive.
So far I have not identified any mosquito larvae over the past one and a half weeks. I have still been emptying the traps and refilling them in the hope that mosquitoes will be present in the near future.
Update a few weeks later:
Unfortunately, coming up to the end of my experiment, I have still not had any mosquito larvae in any of my traps. Where I live, in Austin, there have been record high temperatures, so it would be very reasonable to expect high numbers of mosquito larvae in the traps. However, after doing some research, I have theorized that a combination of location and lack of humidity has played a part in my mosquito trap results.
I expected that this trap would have at least some amount of mosquito larvae, but that was not the case. As I mentioned previously, we seem to be having a wasp problem around our backyard, so that could be one of the reasons for the lack of mosquitoes in the vicinity. In addition, (this applies to all three traps) it has been relatively dry in Austin, which is not ideal condition for mosquitoes. I did however find an abundance of other insects which is interesting.
I was not expecting to find any mosquito larvae in this trap because the area is regularly sprayed with insecticide and I did not end up finding any. This was not surprising at all and I didn't really find many other insects in this trap.
This one ended up being the most surprising result of all three. I placed it a relatively secluded area to humans but an area where there were a lot of insects. I found plenty of other large insects in my trap but no mosquito larvae at all. I am relatively certain that the area is not sprayed with insecticide. I had a few incidents where deer or other animals knocked over the traps, but there weren't any abnormalities further than that.
About the author: Akhila is a rising senior in Austin, TX. 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. 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 US high school (http://www.tsgc.utexas.edu/sees-internship/). Akhila shares her experience this summer in this blog post.