My main goal is to see what attracts mosquitos and although there are so many variables out there I only had the resources to test 2: color vibrancy and bait!

I have 6 plastic cups filled with about a cup and a half of water each in addition to their assigned "bait". 2 cups are my controls which only contain water. One is a vibrant purple while the other is white. I keep this paired design for all my baits and also test grass clippings and salt water (mainly to see if sweat-that contains salt and other electrolytes-actually attract mosquitos). Each cup of salt water has about 2 tsp of salt. 

In addition, I have also placed sticks within each cup to provide an area for Aedes mosquitos to lay eggs.

My experiment design is pictured below!


I have decided to check my traps about twice every week-once on Sunday and once on Wednesday. I log this in my journal and count larvae, eggs, and any other observations or errors. 

During week 1 of my traps there have been 4 egg sacs in the grass clippings cup with vibrant color. 1 egg sac in the cup with grass clippings with a white color and no eggs or larvae yet in the other traps. This is likely because it is not full mosquito season in the Chicago suburbs yet because average temperatures at night have still been pretty cold. July is one of the worst (or best?) seasons for mosquitos near me so I will continue tracking until I see good results and collect enough data. 

In my county there has been 2 tornado warnings in the past couple weeks accompanied by heavy rain and long thunderstorms. This has taken out a lot of my grass clippings and I worried it may have diluted my salt water too much. A couple days ago I refilled the cups and placed new bait-including the control/plain water cups just to make sure the water was the same throughout my traps and that wasn't an additional variable that could have affected my results.

Week 2 Update: No new larvae or eggs and I still haven’t been bit by a mosquito yet which is very odd for this time of year. It is also very hot this week and my traps were in a sunny area so I moved them to a cooler area of my backyard-under a tree with a large range of shade.

Week 3 Update: It has been very stormy this week and one of my grass habitat cups has fallen over. I refilled all the cups and habitats and still no new eggs or larvae. Some of the other traps have other bugs (Such as spiders) so I refilled the water for a lot of the traps. Since it rained quite a bit this week I was worried about dilution in the cups with salt so I refilled the water and added new salt. 

-Unfortunately my 2 traps with eggs (4 in the grass clippings trap with a vibrant colored cup and 1 in the grass clippings cup with a white cover) overflowed this week and the eggs were no longer there.

Week 4 Update: There was very good weather this week. It was not extremely hot (It was mid-70s F) and it didn't rain at all so there was still water available for the mosquitoes and there was no overflow of the traps because of all the rain. 

Week 5 Update: Another good week weather-wise. There was some rain so I refilled the cups after it rained and added salt and new grass clippings to avoid dilution. 

Check out my data and observations in the pdf!

About the author: Sarah is a senior at Harry D. Jacobs High School, Algonquin, IL. 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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