Hunting mosquitoes in the name of science
We’ve all experienced it: you’ve spent a summer evening seated on the balcony, taken a walk in the woods or left the light on in the bedroom while airing before bed: the next morning, an itchy spot. On the arms, legs or face: a mosquito bite. But a bite isn’t always bite, and mosquito isn’t always mosquito. Nobody really knows what types of mosquito are found in Germany. But that’s about to change, with the help of different research institutes and the crowd.
On the Internet page www.mueckenatlas.de a map shows which mosquitoes feel at home in which regions of Germany. Internet users are needed. Not digitally, but practically – as mosquito hunters. The homepage that was created by a number of different research institutes says “If a mosquito lands on the wall or your arm, simply put a jar over it, screw the lid on, and that’s it. The next step is to kill the mosquito you caught. Put the jar in the freezing compartment and leave it there until the next day. Then all you have to do is make sure your prey gets to us.” The site of the find and the time can be filled in a preprinted form, and the finder can also state whether they want to appear by name on the homepage or not.
However, the project is not only meant to satisfy the hunting instincts of human beings and the curiosity of the scientists. A serious research interest is behind the idea. “Since mosquitoes have been scientifically neglected in Germany for many years, fundamental knowledge about the distribution and occurrence of the different species is missing. […] Some mosquitoes and other bloodsucking insects can transmit germs“, explain the scientists on their homepage. And they also have political backing. They are working on behalf of the Robert-Koch-Institute and the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection.
Up until now, the mosquito hunters haven’t been very active, the Germany map of the mosquito atlas shows only 25 dots. But the summer season is approaching, and the next time the mosquitoes bother you on the balcony, you can think about catching them instead of hitting them.Photo by PeterA / pixelio.de