November 28, 2022

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Participatory Science: Mosquitoes are now tracked through the app

summer, time for mosquito. A particular research project supports citizens with researchers from the University of La Sapienza in order to feed a national mosquito tracking scheme. How? Thanks to the deliberate application Mosquito alertwho was born two years ago and now enters the heart of the citizen science program.

The project

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Sapienza projects

La Sapienza is at the forefront of scientific research on mosquitoes, in coordination with the Departments of Public Health and Infectious Diseases in both. Mosquito alert project in Italy and the broader European project Aedes Invasive Mosquito Aim-Cost Action. Mosquito Alert Italia’s partners include the Higher Institute of Health, the Experimental Zooprophylactic Institute in Venice, the Trento Museum, and the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Bologna.

Other (primary) partners are citizens, who can voluntarily submit reports to task force entomologists via Mosquito Alert: by downloading it for free, the user can Submit both reports Non-photographs of bites and pictures of mosquitoes or pools of standing water that may represent potential insect breeding sites such as (for example) manholes. The most enthusiastic citizens will be able to do it Mosquito samples are also sent to experts They will be able to collect it, under the banner of participatory science that actively engages people in research.

The app was born in Spain, and has been active in Italy since 2020. Yes Over 200,000 downloadsThe goal of this partnership is also to drive further adoption. The broader goal is instead to collect and validate as many images of mosquitoes as possible to map their species, paying particular attention to mosquitoes. Tiger (Aedes albopictus) and other invasive species such as mosquitoes Korean (Aedes koreicus) and that Japanese (Aedes japonicus), you have recently arrived in our country.

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Italy is among the countries most affected: 65 known species of mosquitoes

Our country is one of the countries most affected by mosquitoes in Europe, both in terms of the number of species (65 known species) and in terms of capillaries. Distribution and Density on Earthespecially considering invasive species: keeping them under control is important not only for their annoying bites, but above all because mosquitoes are potential vectors of human pathogens (from the virus dengue fever for what causes chikungunya) and for animals, which can pose a threat to public health. Among the most dangerous species of mosquitoes as vectors are Aedes aegypti, the so-called yellow fever mosquito, the carrier of many viral agents and can be identified by White spots on the paws And by transparent lyre-shaped bands on the chest. It is not currently in Italy, however, it requires specific monitoring.

How is Mosquito Alert used

But how is mosquito alert used? To find out the species in real time, simply take a photo of a mosquito and send the shot to the experts. Citizen reports, once validated, will be included in Interactive map on the Mosquito Alert Italia website They will therefore be able to help target control interventions effectively. In order not to frustrate the results of disinfection operations in public spaces conducted by local authorities, it will be important to raise awareness among citizens also regarding the management of special areas where mosquitoes can develop, such as household stagnant water collections.

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Pay attention to the quality of the photos

To contribute to the project, we are asking citizens to immediately download and use the app when they have been bitten or managed to photograph a mosquito – he explained. Benjamino Caputo, Sapienza Researcher And Mosquito Alert Italia Coordinator – The quality of the transmitted images is essential for proper species identification. Experts, always via smartphone, will inform the user about the mosquitoes depicted and will make maps of the species present in the area, useful for managing and guiding pest control.”

Mosquito Alert (available for iOS and Android, but also on the web) allows citizens to join the project using 3 different levels The post: “From the simplest and fastest notification via the app, the notification of bites, to the next step of sending pictures of mosquitoes or breeding sites, right up to the actual submission of complete mosquito samples, for the most excited.” Alessandra Della Torre, Coordinator of the Sapienza Medical Entomological Group and head of the Aim-Cost project.