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Citizen Science Project: Invasive Mosquitoes

Citizen Science  Project: Invasive Mosquitoes

 

The project our group chose to adapt was the Invasive Mosquito Project, created on scistarter.com. The project called for participants to collect mosquito larva, eggs, and pupae from surrounding wetlands around the world and report the findings to the project organisers. The findings will be reported to public-health representatives to benefit community outreach programs that focus on controlling the mosquito population and public health agencies. The yearly mosquito collection data will be used to generate mosquito distribution maps for each year and cumulative distributions for each community.

Link to the Invasive Mosquitoe Project: ttps://scistarter.com/project/1957-Invasive-Mosquito-Project

We chose this project because it seemed to be fairly simple to do. Mosquitos are rather abundant in the Carolinas, so we figured it would be easy to capture and obtain data on them. We adapted this project by 3D printing a black container and funnel rather than using a plastic bottle. The 3D printer model created a more durable and reusable design than a cheap plastic bottle.

 

The instructions on how to make a simple mosquito trap that we used to adapt were found on instructables.com. http://www.instructables.com/id/Plastic-Bottle-Mosquito-Trap/?amp_page=true

 

The original list of materials were as follows:

  • Plastic bottle (2 liters one is good)
  • 4 spoons of white sugar
  • 10gr (0.70oz) Brewer's yeast (freeze-dried one or fresh)
  • 200ml (6.75oz) water (and a pot for boiling)
  • Tape
  • Black cardboard (or similar dark covering

The ingredients for making the Mosquitoe Food

 

Since we 3D printed the container used to capture and hold the mosquitos, it would be more expensive than simply getting a plastic bottle and a funnel. However, by 3D printing it, we were able to color the container black and eliminate light inside the container, also, it is more durable than a plastic bottle.

The MakerSpace at North Carolina State University, where we printed our project

 

The adapted materials are as follows:

  • Black PLA Filimant - .5kg
  • Clear tape - .33m

It is not easy to create a 3D model if you are not familiar with this field. Popular software for making 3D models include 123D Design and Solidworks. The price for purchasing a full version Solidworks can be as high as $1295, so it is best to use a cheaper, student version is possible. Tutorial videos are helpful in learning how to extrude the models more accurately and simplify the modeling process. This design is more expensive and more complex than the original design. Although the original project,\'s materials were cheap and easy to gather, the resulting project was not durable or reusable. Participants might have to repurchase materials and remake the container due to damage from weather, wildlife, etc.. Our adaption of the project fixes these issues through the use of a 3D printer. By 3D printing our project, we had a product that is both durable and reusable. However, limitations of the new design would definitely come from not having access to a 3D printer or the money to purchase the material used to 3D print.

Our adaption of the project was not successful. We were only able to leave it out for a single night due to time constraints and scheduling, so we did not have any success in capturing any mosquitos. However, we feel we would have been more successful had we left it out for longer and more mosquitos had been out.

The base and funnel of our Mosquito Trap

Future participants would definitely be able to ask questions easier about the design of the mosquito trap as well as the information it is collection. The nature of the project does not change, therefore it may bring about more innovative ways to create a mosquito trap similar to ours with durability in mind. Our project also collects the same amount of data as a water bottle due to the design of the cylinder, but I would not say it makes the project better or worse as a whole. Our project is more durable, only two pieces, and reusable, but is cost ineffective and relies on a level of competence with 3D modeling and a 3D printer that most people do not have. So as a whole, our project is less accessible to the normal citizen but may spark other innovations to the simplistic instructions of a less durable water-bottle design.

The Mosquito trap set up near a pond on NC State Campus

 

We learned that the order in which we do the tasks is important. We tried to divide the work evenly, having different people work on different parts of the project and then bring the different parts together. However, this resulted in the mosquito food being ready before the actual trap was finished printing. This might have impacted the effectiveness of the food as a bait, since the yeast would become less reactive over time. Future iterations of this project should make sure that the actual trap is built before they make the food, and that the trap is put out as soon as the food is finished being made.

Besides these technical take aways, this project could still be a great way for citizens to get involved in a scientific study. This project has the potential to collect massive amounts of data while getting citizens interested in the scientific community.

 

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