What could be better than combining mosquito awareness education and mosquito surveillance? The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has created a program to gain better insights about where specific mosquito breeds are present, to create a map for tracking and provide information about mosquito hot-spots. The Invasive Mosquito Control Project will allow researchers and mosquito controllers to respond when a large threat is present in a specific area.
Better Data for Better Mosquito Control
There is not currently accurate centralized data for where disease-spreading mosquito breeds are present in the United States. While there is some local surveillance, the CDC’s national maps only show the POSSIBLE spread of mosquitoes. The CDC maps are based on historical data, recent research, and surveys. While it used to cost up to $150 or more per night to send USDA employees out to set mosquito traps, the new Invasive Mosquito Project will gather more data for less cost by including students in the process.
Recruiting Students & Student Groups
By creating a program that involves schools, garden clubs, and Boy Scout troops, the USDA can simultaneously gain information while students learn about mosquitoes and the importance of mosquito control vigilance. Coordinated by Kansas-based entomologist, Lee Conhnstaedt, the idea of crowdsourcing mosquito population samples to garner large-scale data in a budget conscious way has transformed into an educational opportunity. His hopes are to gain participation from 1/5 of U.S. schools to make mosquito surveys a common practice long-term.
Students set traps using brown paper towels, dark-colored party cups, and water. After a week, they collect the towels and examine them for eggs. After verifying their findings with the USDA, local researchers or mosquito control officials they upload their results to the project’s website. The website is part of a citizen science database that is meant to give the public much-needed information for mosquito-borne disease prevention. After all, mosquitoes spread many dangerous diseases such as West Nile Virus, Zika Virus, Triple E and Malaria.
We are committed to providing you the best information for staying up-to-date on the threat of mosquito-borne illnesses in the Central Massachusetts area. Stay tuned for the latest local mosquito news. Don’t forget, to limit the population of mosquitoes on your property, follow the 5T’s of mosquito control.