College kids fight insects

April 13, 2007

Valdosta --  Most people are swatting the mosquitoes that are swarming in for the summer. But a group of Valdosta State University students welcomes them with open arms and nets.

Each spring and summer, a dedicated group of students from Valdosta State University spend their late nights and early mornings hunting little pests most of us try to stay away from.

"We go out in the evening and set the traps and in the morning we come back in with the nets," said Lab Technician  Ashley Patterson. 

Special nets are set up in several locations throughout Lowndes County, designed to trap mosquitoes. "This battery powers a fan inside the PVC pipe which collects all the mosquito to this net here on top," says Mosquito MonitorMatt Cannister.

Once the nets are collected, they are taken back to the lab where technicians are eager to study their activity and growth. "We collect mosquitoes and identify them by species and keep track of the numbers of individual mosquitoes that come out," said VSU Biology Professor Mark Blackmore.

Their findings also help the City target areas where they're spraying services are needed most. "It allows me from the planning standpoint to target certain areas that have significant numbers," said Public Works Director John Whitehead.

And they test these disease carrying pests for viruses like West Nile. "What we are interested in is letting people know when conditions are favorable for the transmission of viruses to people so people can take precautions," said Blackmore.

So we can enjoy the outdoors until the winter returns and the mosquitoes swarm somewhere else.

With the cold and dry weather South Georgia has seen, the mosquito population is down. But they say that could soon change as the temperatures continue to heat up.