We use our smartphones for everything, don’t we? When was the last time you actually bought a map or put a phone number in a handwritten phonebook? We schedule with our phones, we shop with our phones, we even date with our phones. Now scientists wants a piece of the action.
A group of researchers from the University of Texas has figured out a way to use our smartphones to identify mosquitoes. If we are going to do everything with our phones why shouldn’t some of it protect us, right? And protection from the diseases that mosquitoes carry becomes more important as mosquitoes spread into new areas. So this group of students and scientists at UT Austin are putting a tool for protection right into our hands.
What Can This Tool Do?
The simplicity of this science is really so cool. By using the phone camera, a 3D printed box, and a chemical test you are able to tell if a mosquito belongs to the Aedes aegypti family. This is the family of mosquitoes that carry Zika, dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever.
Sanchita Bhadra, the first author of the research paper published in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases and also a research associate in the Department of Molecular Biosciences, says that “Having surveillance is important in conjunction with any kind of outbreak, and this method allows a rapid test in the field.” Not only can the tool tell if a mosquito is an Aedes mosquito it can tell if it has been infected with the bacteria Wolbachia. Wolbachia has been used in 20 states as well as in countries around the world. It is a bacteria that is introduced into mosquito populations to help stop the mosquitoes from transmitting viruses. By using this tool scientists can tell if the Wolbachia is actually effective. This team of researchers is also exploring this phone app’s ability to tell if mosquitoes are actually carrying disease. In the past, these types of tests have been time-consuming, expensive, and complicated. But now it’s as simple as the snap of a camera phone.
Mosquito Selfies!! It’s about time a selfie became something useful, right?
We Love Mosquito Science
Isn’t it amazing though? How something that was once a difficult but necessary procedure suddenly becomes just the touch of a button. And even more amazing how science makes it more accessible and affordable. Taking something that only a handful of people could once do and spreading it across the globe. It creates a wealth of data for researchers to pull from. More information is bound to lead to better ability to protect ourselves from the diseases that mosquitoes carry.
At Mosquito Squad of South Central Texas, we love being a part of the solution. This study shows how you will possibly be able to be a part too! However you really already can: by doing your part to keep the mosquito population down. To do that you have to eliminate the mosquitoes in the areas that you can control… at home. We are excited about what science can do but we are continuously focused on what WE can do, and that is, eliminate the mosquitoes in your yard. Let us tell you how. Call us today, in fact, why not use your smartphone.