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Plants-Friend or Foe of the Mosquito? Guest Scientist Blog by Baseem A., 2020 NASA SEES Intern

Through my research, I tried to find a connection between plants and mosquitoes, so that humans can find a safe, natural, and aesthetically pleasing way to deter these disease vectors. I began my search for answers by visiting nature preserves in my area to sample water, set mosquito traps, and take pictures of the plants. I also used the GLOBE Observer Mosquito Habitat Mapper data from the GLOBE database to provide me with numerical data about how many mosquitoes are in an area with and without plants. To determine if there are plants in an area, I look at the land cover images that the interns and citizen scientists provided and marked if they contained plants. I used tools in my “numbers” app to remove all data points with missing information and I ended up with 275 images/data points.

My Results:
Surprisingly, I found that mosquito larvae are less commonly found in the areas that contain no plants than the areas with plants. However, Adult mosquitoes were recorded more often in areas with plants.

Looking Forward:
Much more research could be done in this field: research about what specific plants do mosquitoes like and which plants they dislike, and other variables. Vector-borne diseases are a big problem facing humans, and the mosquito is one of the largest and most abundant vectors of this world. By finding a connection between plants and mosquitoes, humans are able to become more prepared to eradicate this threat.

Baseem A. is a high school student from California who is working on a research project this summer using the GLOBE Observer Mosquito Habitat Mapper. 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 U.S. high school students (http://www.tsgc.utexas.edu/sees-internship/). He shares his experience this summer in this guest blog post.

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