UALR Biology and Environmental Health Sciences students are working with the City of Little Rock to trap and identify mosquitoes.
There are six traps around the city and for the last ten years, UALR students have worked alongside the Little Rock Solid Waste Department to identify which areas to spray for mosquitoes.
Each week, Will Anthony checks the six mosquito traps UALR students have placed around Little Rock.
“We take the box that is inside and see what kind are in there and find the species and genes of them,” says Anthony.
It is research and field experience for Anthony but a type of West Nile prevention for the city.
“We follow up and tell the people that work for the city where exactly the citizens want sprayed,” says Anthony.
“This mixture is really just a high intensity one of rabbit food is what we mix in to give kind of what we call an infusion,” says Dr. Carl Stapleton, Director of UALR’s Environmental Health Sciences program.
Dr. Stapleton says mosquitoes have an extremely keen sense of smell and are attracted to exhaled CO2 gases. He says the odor from the liquid baits the female mosquitoes to lay their eggs.
“This trap is really for us to understand what density of mosquitoes we have and also what kind of mosquitoes we have because then we can go and look for sources,” says Dr. Stapleton.
“We take those 311 calls and map them out and take the city truck and drive and look for the breeding grounds,” says UALR graduate Kim Davenport. She says in dry conditions, citizens usually create their own mosquito problem.
“Tires, tires, especially tires. They are on every corner, they are full of water and most of them are breeding mosquitoes,” says Davenport.
Breeding, Dr. Stapleton says, that can be prevented with a watchful eye.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I state that a lot but it is and that’s all facets of life but for mosquitoes and West Nile virus reduction, that is key,” says Dr. Stapleton.
While UALR and the city of Little Rock do not specifically test for West Nile, of the 55 mosquito species in Arkansas, 12 of them have the potential to carry it.
He says it’s also important to remember, mosquitoes pose a threat to pets as well as humans.They are the source of heart-worm disease in dogs so be sure to get with your veterinarian about medications you can use to prevent the deadly disease.
So far, Arkansas has reported 25 cases of West Nile virus, 2 of them resulted in death.