Mosquito eggs: Collecting egg rafts for pesticide resistance testing

  Friday June 28, 2024 I had set up buckets of stinky water to attract mosquitoes to lay their eggs the day before. Then I came back the next day and to my surprise, the buckets were full of mosquito egg rafts. I was very excited! Each egg raft contains anywhere from 100 - 400 individual mosquito eggs. Once I had collected enough egg rafts to fill the centrifuge tubes I headed back to the lab. In the controlled lab environment, I opened the caps of the tubes and allowed the mosquitoes to hatch over the weekend. When I came back to work the following week the mosquitoes had hatched into their larval stage and were ready to be shipped for pesticide resistance testing.                 A bucket full of mosquito egg rafts (200+)  I am scooping the egg rafts out of the bucket (the little black triangle is one egg raft).  A picture of me labeling the tubes for the egg raft collection. Now they are ready for pesticide resistance testing. 

Mosquito identification: Honing my skills

A photo of me looking at mosquitoes in the microscope. When I am not out in the field setting and retrieving traps I practice my skills of mosquito identification.  The mosquito nets from the light traps and gravid traps must be frozen to kill the mosquitoes before I can view them. Once the mosquitoes are ready I utilize the Identification Guide to the Mosquitoes of Connecticut to help identify to the species level. I am starting to get faster at identifying the mosquitoes that I am given by Aubrey (the entomologist). She has been helping me along the way, so I know that I can get better at identifying adult mosquitoes.   P. S. I passed my state pesticide applicator license test! David

Week 2 and 3: Collecting traps

Sorting the insects collected and looking for the mosquitoes!  The past two weeks have been very eventful for finding and collecting mosquitoes. The mosquito trap locations that I cover are part of the Mid, Lower, and Outer regions of Cape Cod. For the people not from Cape Cod, or who have not spent considerable time here, these regions span from Barnstable to Provincetown. I am on the road every day in a green pickup truck going around Cape Cod setting up mosquito traps (gravid and light traps) and then the next day going back to collect the captured mosquitoes. Once I've collected the mosquitoes (and other flying insects) I return to the lab to freeze the samples in the deep freezer. After about an hour the sample is ready to be sorted and the mosquitoes are waiting to be identified.  P.s. the contents of this trap had a lot of other insects besides mosquitoes like moths, beetles, and nats.  David

Why Mosquitoes?

A picture of me inspecting the contents of the light trap net.      Hello, I am David Piccirilli, a biology student at UVM, class of 2025. I took the internship opportunity with the Cape Cod Mosquito Control Project (CCMCP) because I wanted to learn more about mosquitoes and vector /disease ecology. Also a bonus, I love being outside and enjoying the summertime in Cape Cod, MA. I am excited to learn about mosquito trapping techniques as well as test my knowledge of mosquito identification. Mosquitoes are a vital factor when considering human public health and ecosystem health. Mosquitoes are responsible for transmitting many diseases to birds and mammals. CCMCP is focused on the spread of Eastern Equine Encephalitis, West Nile virus, and Jamestown Canyon virus. Our organization aims to understand the species diversity of mosquitoes in Cape Cod and participate in ongoing research of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources related to mosquito disease testing. 

Week 1: The beginning of mosquito season

I am officially done with the first week. I am excited to say that I think this internship is going to be very fun and I am looking fowared to the rest of the summer! This week I learned about gravid traps and light traps. We have many locations all around Cape Cod, MA that are near marsh lands, salt marshes, and bogs. Mostly anywhere water pools for a longer amount of time. Mosquitoes love wetlands to breed new generations of tiny blood hunrgy vectors. My job is to set up and collect mosqutioes from trap collection sites and take them back to the lab, so the species can be identifiyed. I am still trying to learn the minute details that differentiate the 50 species of Massachusetts. I have seen mostly Aedes and Ochlerotatus genus mosquitoes and I have had find the differences between Aedes vexans, Ochlerotatus abserratus, Ochlerotatus canadensis, Ochlerotatus cantator, and Ochlerotatus excrucians. Also, I have started studying for the pesticide applicators license test which I hope to

Mosquito MAYhem!

     Before my internship was started I was invited by my supervisor (Gabi Sakolsky) to join a mosquito and tick identification class. The course was held at the Cape Cod Community College in the science building. During the course, I got to hear from other mosquito control districts in Massachusetts talking about the different methods of traping and treating mosquitoes.       The Mosquito Mayhem course is aimed to introduce Identification of all the species of mosquitoes, which mainly focused on the species we find in Massachusetts. This class was very important to me because I was able to learn some new skills when looking at mosquitoes and also practice my own microscopy technique. After taking the class, I am more excited then ever to start my work with the Cape Cod Mosquito Control Project! I can't wait to put my ID work to the test with the mosquitoes I find out in the field.