SEES 2022: Mosquito Experiment

Guest blog: Aaron L.

My experiment in South Korea has yielded some interesting results, to say the least. For my experiment, I wanted to see if the color of the environment was a significant factor in mosquitoes finding their habitat. Thus, in my pursuit of finding this out, I set up four buckets, two red and two white, to use as the potential nesting grounds for mosquitoes. I filled  the four buckets with water from a nearby fountain and promptly put in grass clippings and dead leaves as feed for mosquito larvae. Balsa wood sticks were also placed as a nucleation point for mosquitoes to lay their eggs on. These buckets were taken to the top of my apartment building's roof under a roofed but open area. I set out two data points to collect: mosquito species present in each bucket and the number of mosquito larvae. With the data, I would perform a chi-square analysis comparing the numbers of each mosquito species and general number of mosquito larvae in each bucket, even distribution of mosquito larvae and species being the expected data points. With more than one bucket, there would surely be a larger data set and thus more accurate representations of the behaviors of each mosquito species. 

From there, all there was left to do was wait and anticipate the incoming mosquito larvae. After weeks of waiting, imagining the tiny, wriggling worm-like aliens in my buckets, checking everyday for a sign, any sign, of the strange beings, there was... nothing. Nothing but dissolved, decomposed, green matter remained in the buckets, settled at the bottom like algae upon a lone, seafaring vessel.

However, something strange occurred. 

Week 1 (06/16 - 06/23):

The grass clippings have settled to the bottom of the bucket along with some leaves. The balsa wood sticks float to the top extremely easily, and there is signs of the water beginning to turn green, but nothing has been birthed in these waters yet. 

Week 2 (06/23 - 06/30):

Something strange occurred. There are tadpoles in the bucket. On June 29th, tadpoles appeared. I have looked daily, but I had not seen any frog eggs in the bucket. Thus, the question of where and how these tadpoles came to be is a complete mystery. It is interesting to note that the tadpoles are only found in both white buckets despite red buckets also being available to lay eggs in.

Week 3 - Week 4 (06/30- 07/14):

I was unfortunately away for a trip, so the experiment had to be put on hold. Just for fun, I left the tadpoles in the buckets to see how much they would grow. In the time I was away, the buckets had filled with rain water and the surrounding grass grew so much that it started reaching into the bucket. I can't vouch for the tadpoles' size, but they did survive and appear to grow a bit, so the food is sufficient for SOME larger life form to persist in it.

Week 5 (07/14-07/21):

I had placed new fountain water with grass clippings and leaves in the buckets, but due to another downpour, the items inside appear to have come out, and so the experiment must be done again. I refilled the buckets (3rd time's the charm!) on 07/20.

About the author: Aaron is a high school student currently living in Nevada but participated in the SEES Earth System Explorers research program while in South Korea. 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 ( ​​​​​​​

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