I have 5 identical buckets placed in shady areas around my yard. Two of these buckets (Buckets 1 and 2) are filled with equivalent amounts of water, grasses, leaves, and dirt, while another bucket (Bucket 3) contains everything but the dirt. I wanted to examine how dirtier water could attribute to a more habitable microenvironment for mosquitoes.
My two other buckets contain equivalent amounts of water and are both wrapped in black trash bags, where one (Bucket 5) contains only grasses and another (Bucket 4) contains only eucalyptus leaves. I wanted to test the effects of eucalyptus oils on mosquito reproduction patterns.
From left to right: Bucket 1, Bucket 2, Bucket 3
From left to right: Bucket 4, Bucket 5
It's been about 10 days since I set up the mosquito habitats, and I've already noticed a lot of mosquito larvae present in 4 of the 5 buckets. It's almost impossible to quantify the exact amount of mosquito larvae in them because there are so many! As expected, I couldn't find any mosquito larvae in the eucalyptus bucket (Bucket 4), which was partly due to the fact that a layer of eucalyptus oil was surrounding the surface of the water level. It seems that mosquitoes really don't like eucalyptus.
Image taken from Bucket 2. Many mosquito larvae can be seen.
I was unable to get my take-home microscope to work correctly on my phone, so I unfortunately do not have any clearer images of my mosquito larvae. It seems that Aedes and Culex are the predominant larvae type in my region.
Image 3: A close-up of one of the mosquito larvae.
In the end, I found an average of about 40-60 mosquito larvae every week in 4 of my 5 buckets, which all contained grass clippings, various leaves, and a little bit of dirt. My experiment helped prove to me that eucalyptus oils and leaves serve as a repellant for mosquitoes.
About the author: Landon is a high school student who participated in the NASA SEES Earth System Explorers research program. His 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/).