7/23/2014 Staff

F&M Mosquito Research at Millport

  • mosquito trap photo 2

Millport is in partnership with Franklin & Marshall College, and students and faculty often use our facilities for important research. Here's an update from Joshua Evan Finkel '15, who is investigating mosquito traps this summer:

This summer I am researching potential mosquito traps and attractants that can be prepared and used by the average homeowner. Receiving the Marshall Scholarship at F&M provided me with the funds necessary to carry out this research.

I spent the last two summers working as a West Nile Virus and mosquito control intern at the Philadelphia Health Department. I set mosquito traps throughout the city, treated standing water to prevent mosquito breeding, and responded to complaints from residents about mosquito problems. Homeowners wanted to use the same traps as the health department. Those traps could be purchased online, but high cost was an issue.

The simple, less effective mosquito traps begin around $100, while the sophisticated and most effective traps can cost as much as $1,000. Additionally, each trap requires some sort of attractant that must be present constantly. There is a wide range of attractants on the market, but most -- if not all -- involve high costs. Some attractants, like dry ice, should be replaced daily, while other attractants are made using various expensive chemical ingredients that must be purchased online.

I felt there were two issues to be addressed. First, there needed to be a more affordable trap available for homeowner purchase. Second, there needed to be an affordable and easy-to-prepare attractant for the trap. I had many ideas that I was eager to begin testing.  When it came time to choose a location for the experiment, I had two options: Philadelphia, similar to my previous two summers, or Lancaster.  What I required was a secure, natural environment where wild mosquitoes, not laboratory-bred mosquitoes, were present.

Millport was the better fit for the experiment, because it is a secure area with both a wooded environment and a wetlands environment. This allows me to test traps and attractants in a variety of conditions. Millport has proven to be a great location for my experiment and, so far, the preliminary results are looking optimistic.

One of the most promising leads involves a modification that I made to an attractant known as "stink water." I have found a way to eliminate the need for the expensive ingredient lactalbumin. I am looking forward to more positive results as the summer goes on, and to continuing my relationship with Millport even after my summer research ends.

  • mosquito trap
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