Scientific researchers can not be everywhere at once, and sometimes, they will enlist the help of engaged citizens to increase the scale of their research. When it comes to the spread of invasive mosquito species, Mosquito Alert, and their app of the same name, step in.
What is Mosquito Alert?
Mosquito Alert began in 2014 by four public research centers and is a non-profit, citizen science project. A statement on their website says, “The goal is to study, monitor and fight the spread of invasive mosquitoes capable of transmitting global diseases such as dengue, Zika or West Nile fever.”
Additionally, citizens that use the app, study and monitor Tiger and Yellow Fever mosquitos and their breeding sites. In the app, Experts review and confirm the photos collected of invasive species. Finally, those photos are added to a map, where you can view the data.
Why is it important?
Having citizens involved in helping to track the movements of specific mosquito varieties, helps scientists in their research. Also, assists cities to control the spread of disease-carrying mosquitos. The accomplished work through Mosquito Alert helps researchers track how climate change and urbanization are affecting the spread of these species. The post Climate and urbanization drive mosquitos’ preference for humans discusses these changes.
Alex Richter-Boix does an excellent job summarizing recent studies that dive into multiple populations of Aedes aegypti. Specifically, the difference between the populations in Africa, America and Asia. He explains that while this species originates from Africa and has no preference toward humans, the American and Asian populations of the same species, do.
The study that Alex refers to hypothesizes that this difference in preference could change due to the increase of urbanization. Ultimately, changing the food that is available to Aedes aegypti.
As human population increases, mosquito populations drive upwards through breeding grounds created by humans. Additionally, the mosquitos that previously had fed mostly on rodents, now prefer humans due to natural selection. This increases the potential spread of disease.
In conclusion, citizens should report any sightings of mosquitoes by utilizing the Mosquito Alert app. This will help the reporting of disease and also to identify specific mosquito species. In addition, Mosquito Alert is a great resource to have on hand when traveling to identify the observations on the interactive maps. Remember to always protect yourself against mosquito bites, either using personal mosquito spray, or applications done by your mosquito professional.