Communications - News at Medicine - September 2018 - Get rid of mosquitoes for science

Get rid of mosquitoes for science
September 5, 2018
A new research project is asking Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans to collect and submit mosquito samples to help determine their potential for disease transmission.
Based on the philosophy of “citizen science,” a research team from the Faculty of Medicine is inviting residents from across the province to assist in collecting and submitting mosquitoes as part of the Newfoundland and Labrador Mosquito Project.

“We’re trying to get a large, broad sample size, so as many mosquitoes as we can from across the province and Saint Pierre and Miquelon. That’s why we need the help of citizens,” said Tegan Padgett, research assistant, in a CBC podcast interview.

Supported by the Infectious Diseases and Climate Change Fund from the Public Health Agency of Canada, the two-year project is focused on learning the life cycles of mosquitoes, determining if they carry any viruses, and examining how climate change affects the distribution and ranges of those mosquitoes and viruses.

“After receiving mosquito samples we will try to find any invasive species,” said Dr. Atanu Sarkar, principle investigator and associate professor of environmental and occupational health at the Division of Community Health and Humanities, Faculty of Medicine. “Then we will analyze climate change data, like temperature or rainfall/snow, and relate that data to the survival of the mosquitoes.”

Other project team members are Dr. Tom Chapman and Dr. Andrew Lang, an entomologist and virologist of the Department of Biology, respectively; Dr. Joel Finnis, a climate scientist from the Department of Geography; and Dr. Hugh Whitney, a retired Chief Veterinary Officer. 

How it works
The project provides residents with the equipment needed to capture mosquitoes including “pooters,” an aspirator that allows individuals to suck up mosquitoes into a collection tube that can then easily be shipped back to the project’s lab at Memorial.

“You’ll suck in and inhale the mosquito into the collection tube, but there is a screen [in the straw] so that you can’t inhale [the mosquito] into yourself,” assures Tegan during the CBC interview.

Click here for a step-by-step demonstration of how to use a pooter.

Interested mosquito collectors can email to join the project.
First picture caption: a map of locations where participants are collecting mosquitoes.
Second picture caption: a pooter with mosquito sample.