SEES 2022: What Bait do Mosquitos Prefer?

Guest blog: Rachel C.

My experiment is testing the effect various types of bait have Mosquito Habitation. My research consists of three five gallon buckets, all filled with equal amounts of water and placed under shade. Each of my buckets has a different type of bait (dirt, leaves, and wood chips). Each week I take out any larvae I see and refill the traps to the 9 inch mark (to keep the water level constant each week). I do not refill the bait. Each week I take a sample of each trap, collecting all the larvae I can see and count the medium/large larvae.

Week 2: The trap with dirt had about 250 medium/large mosquito larvae, much more compared to the other traps which had a fraction of that amount. The water in the dirt trap was very dark compared to the water of the others which were very light.

Week 3: The data I collected from this week was very interesting and contrasted from week 2. This week I only found about 7 medium / large larvae but also found many little ones. The water in the dirt trap this week was very yellow. The trap with leaves had about 70 medium / large larvae and the water was a beer like color. What was most surprising was the result of the wood chip trap. During week 2, I only found small larvae in this trap but this week I found about 230 medium/ large larvae. I also saw a few actual mosquitoes (Aedes) on the sides of the trap. This week I also saw quite a lot of fly larvae which look like little slugs in each of my traps.

Week 4: This week there were a lot more mosquito larvae. I noticed that many mosquitoes were swarming around the traps and that the traps had a certain scent, similar to how a zoo smells. The wood chip trap had similar result as last week, containing gray water (but slightly darker this week) and 243 larvae. The Dirt trap had a lot more larvae (40) than week 3 but not as many as week 2. The color this week similar to last weeks, having a light yellow tint. The leaves trap darkened drastically, now being a dark beer color. This trap had a lot of larvae, all of which were very large (260). Below is a picture of the leaves trap (the darker water) and wood chip trap (lighter water)

Week 5: This week I found a significantly less number of mosquitos in my traps. My Wood chip trap had only 10 larvae. the dirt trap had 40 larvae which consisted of a few big ones. It also had some smaller larvae. The leave trap had only 10 larvae, one of which was very large. There was also lots of fly larvae. It was very hard to see the contents of the leave trap since it had darkened so much to a deep darker color. (the other traps did not darken)

Week 6: This week there were few mosquitoes in my traps. Each trap had less than 10 mosquitoes but I found lots of mosquitoes swarming the traps, and residing on the sides of the containers. I also found algae in all three traps this week.

About the author: ​​​​​​​Rachel participated in the SEES 2022 virtual 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 ( Rachel shared her experience this summer in this blog post.

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