Staying ahead of mosquito-borne diseases. New app tracks the insects

Warmer weather and mosquitos go hand in hand.
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 5:13 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Warmer weather and mosquitos go hand in hand. A St. Louis research group is looking for the public’s help to stay ahead of mosquito-borne diseases with the new Mosquito Alert App.

Jean Ponzi, the Green Resource Manager with the Missouri Botanical Garden says you can protect yourself from mosquitos by tipping over standing water.

Ponzi said, “They only breed in standing water.”

Mosquitoes are weak fliers. A fan will blow them away and keep them off. Protect yourself with good bug spray.

Ponzi said, “If you have a good mosquito repellent on, it is like an invisibility clock and allows you to move around and enjoy the outdoors, and mosquitos can find their lunch elsewhere.”

There are over 3,500 species of mosquitoes. Only a handful transmit diseases. While they are a pest when they bite, mosquitoes provide essential resources to animals and other insects. They are a major part of the food chain and the ecological system. For this reason, a mosquito research team is looking for more information to prevent harmful mosquito species, without eliminating the insects as a whole.

A professor of public health and social justice at St. Louis University, Dr. Ricardo Wray, said the risk of contracting a mosquito-borne disease is low. However, with a rise in global temperatures, that could change.

Dr. Wray said, “With climate change. There is a concern that some of these mosquitoes and some of these diseases will enter this area.”

Dr. Wray and Ponzi are partners on a collaborative team to study mosquitoes in St. Louis. Other partners include entomologists and a few members from local health departments. Together they brought the Mosquito Alert App to St. Louis.

This app was originally founded in Barcelona, Spain. It’s been widely used all over Europe, but St. Louis is the first city in the U.S. to adopt this app.

Dr. Wray said, “We need dedicated users to post photos on the app.”

The research team is looking for citizen scientists to make reports through the app. In a few simple steps, one can identify the mosquito type, report breeding sites, and upload photos.

A team of entomologists will verify and study all reports made. This will help them identify any disease-transmitting species, and control breeding sites.

Dr. Wray said, “The more we can get ahead of these diseases, the better prepared we can be.”

The app is available for free in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.