SEES 2022: Experiences with Mosquito Traps During Summer 2022

Guest blog: Rebecca L.

I'm going to share my experiences conducting a mosquito trap experiment in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. Throughout the summer, I will have 4 mosquito traps set up in my backyard, each baited with different substances, but otherwise identical. The goal of this controlled experiment is to see what type of bait is most successful at attracting adult female mosquitoes to lay their eggs.

Week 1 of Mosquito Trap Experiment (Week of June 21):

I set up my mosquito traps around June 13, but unfortunately I had some issues right off the bat. We had some windy days here in Cleveland, Ohio, and we also have lots of wildlife that call my community home. Between the winds, the deer, and the squirrels, my traps didn't even make it to the five day mark! It was quite disappointing. However, after my failed first attempt, I set up some new traps. This time, I made sure to think ahead about some things I could do to prevent these sorts of issues with my experiment. 

Below is an image of the fallen mosquito traps 

In order to prevent my new traps from falling over, I decided I had to try using containers that were lower to the ground than the original soda bottles I had used. So, I tried using aluminum cooking pans. To my relief, these were quite successful! They have been up in my yard for about 5 days now, and I have had no problems with them.

Below is an image of the new traps


The baits I have been using so far in my experiment are: salt, sugar, fish food, and rice. 


So far, 5 days have passed, and I haven't found mosquito larvae in these new traps. However, I will keep looking every 5 days, and hopefully soon I will get some interesting results.

Week 2 of Mosquito Trap Experiment (Week of June 28):

I still have not found any mosquito larvae in my traps, even though I have been checking them frequently (every 4-5 days). I tried adding a little more water to them and increasing the amount of bait. Hopefully I'll get some interesting results in the coming weeks.

Week 3 of Mosquito Trap Experiment (Week of July 6):

This was the week I finally found some mosquito larvae! When I checked my four mosquito traps, I saw that one of them was absolutely filled with mosquito eggs and mosquito larvae! It was so so exciting because I had waited almost a month to get results that could help me answer my scientific questions about the effects of bait type on mosquito oviposition. There were hundreds of larvae in the container. I took a small cup of the trap water as a sample, and counted 54 larvae in it. However, there were still hundreds of larvae left in the main trap. The traps baited with salt, sugar, and rice did not contain any larvae. The one filled with larvae was the fish food trap. I got some really cool pictures of these larvae under a microscope, as well as of the egg rafts.

Above you see an image of the Culex mosquito egg rafts I found in my fish food trap!



Above on the right is a full-body image of one of the mosquitoes I retrieved from my fish food mosquito trap. On the left is a close-up of the siphon, which I photographed in order to identify which type of mosquito it was.


I believe the mosquitoes present in my fish food trap were all culex mosquitoes, as they sat perpendicular to the surface and had long siphons (as visible in the above images). The egg rafts made me even more certain, as culex mosquitoes are the genera that lay egg rafts.

Although only one of my traps from my mosquito trap experiment contained any larvae, both of the traps placed in different locations within my Adopt a Pixel 3km by 3km Area of Interest (AOI) contained larvae! This was the first time I had checked my AOI traps and seen larvae. 

Above is an image of one of the larvae I found in my AOI trap. This location within my AOI is located about .7 miles away from my house. I believe the mosquito pictured is also a culex mosquito due to its long, skinny siphon. I found many egg rafts in the trap with it, further indicating that it is likely a culex mosquito. 

Overall, the SEES internship week from July 6-13 was the most eventful week yet in terms of my mosquito trap experiment, and I can't wait to see what cool results I'll get this upcoming week!

Week 4 of Mosquito Trap Experiment (Week of July 13):

This week I also got some pretty interesting mosquito results. When I checked the traps set up in my backyard, I saw that two of traps had larvae in them! These were the fish food and the table salt traps. The fish food trap contained culex mosquitoes similar to the week prior. I'm almost positive the salty traps contained culex mosquitoes as well due to the incredibly long, skinny siphons the larvae had.

Some images of larvae from my saltwater trap:


​​​​​​​About the author: Rebecca is a rising senior from Beachwood, OH. This blog describes a mosquito undefinedtrapping 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 ( Rebecca shares her experience this summer in this blog post.

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