SEES 2022: Mosquito Research Blog

Guest blog: Ayla S.

Purpose + Background

The overall purpose of my experiment is to determine how the quality of water in a particular mosquito trap affects mosquito laying and breeding. To study this relationship between mosquito breeding and water quality, I set up traps with different types of water, including tap water, filtered water, and pond water. 

Experimental Design

I constructing 5 mosquito traps total, and all were placed in a shady spot within my AOI. My mosquito traps were placed in 2 different locations: 3 traps were placed in the center of my AOI, and 2 were placed in a different spot in my AOI)

My independent variable in this experiment is the type of water used in the trap. I made these 5 traps with 3 different types of water, with varying amounts of sediment/debris: tap water (contains some minerals), filtered water (no sediment or minerals), pond water (contains sentiment, algae, etc.)

I also planned to collect data on my traps every seven days, specifically on every Monday. 


My hypothesis for this experiment was that the pond water would be the most favorable environment for mosquito breeding, specifically because of the sediment, organic matter, and decaying plants present in this water. 

Procedure + Implementation

This is the procedure I followed for setting up the traps:

  1. The buckets I used for this experiment are 3 gallon, black plastic buckets. Inside each bucket, I first placed a layer of small rocks to weigh down the bucket and prevent it from tipping over.  
  2. Then, I placed 1 cup of fermented grass clippings into each bucket as bait (because the experiment suggested fermented grass clippings as a bait option). 
  3. Inside each bucket, I also placed a wooden paint stick.
  4. Finally, I poured 1800 mL of the specific water type into the bucket. 
  5. I also labeled each bucket with the water type I was testing in that bucket. 

This is the general set-up of each bucket, before the water was added.


Areas for Improvement + Challenges

One definite area of improvement for my experiment is collecting accurate samples and correctly identifying larvae. Because this was my first week trying this out, I had some difficulty with these tasks, but plan to optimize this process moving forward.


Planned Day 1 of my Experiment =Wednsday June 15th 

Actual Day 1 of my Experiment = Monday June 20th 

Day 7 of my Experiment (June 27th): On Day 7 of my experiment, I was finally able to collect data on all 5 of my traps. Trap #1 (center of AOI, tap water) had about 12 larvae (average of 3 samples) which I identified as Culex due to their long, curved siphon. Trap #2 (center of AOI, filtered water) had about 35 Culex larvae. Trap #3 (center of AOI, pond water) had about 45 Culex larvae. I did not find any pupa in Traps #1-#3. Traps #4 and #5 were placed in a different location within my AOI. Trap #4 (outside center of AOI, pond water) contained 10 Culex larvae, but these larvae also appeared larger and more developed compared to my other traps. Trap #5 (outside the center of my AOU, tap water) produced the most interesting data, in my opinion. I found 14 larvae and 1 pupa in this trap. However, these larvae appeared to be of a different species, specifically Aedes due to their short, curved siphon. 

Day 14 (7/4)


Day 14:


Day 7 Traps #1-4:


Day 7 Trap #5: 

About the author: Ayla is a rising senior at The Hockaday School in Dallas, Texas. 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 ( ​​​​​​​

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