Texas A&M University - San Antonio biology professor, Dr. Megan Wise de Valdez, has been studying mosquitos for years. She was pleased when her students participated in her research, which had them conducting the first survey of its kind in a metropolitan area. They spent the summer surveying the Aedes aegypti mosquito which can transmit numerous viruses detrimental to a person’s health. SciTech Now learns more about the Aedes aegypti and what the results of this study mean for San Antonio.
The Aedes aegypti, also known as the yellow fever mosquito, can transmit numerous diseases and viruses like Dengue fever, Chikungunya, Zika fever, and yellow fever. The mosquito originated in Africa, but can now be found in all regions of the world. Even though there have been no known cases of mosquitos carrying the virus in San Antonio, the research conducted was to find out more about the possibilities of the virus existing in our city and the preventions one can take before it occurs. The students spent the summer setting up about 120 traps in various locations across San Antonio.
“Our goal was to find where Aedes aegypti was most prevalent,” said Dr. Wise.
Variations at the homes where the traps were placed made it hard to identify the most populated area. However, other factors like the conditions of the surrounding areas are what stood out the most.
“What we really found out was that more so than a particular neighborhood, it was the status of the yard and the surrounding yards that played the biggest role in determining where these mosquitos were found,” said Dr. Wise.
Small standing water is the biggest thing that attracts the Aedius aegypti mosquito. Containers like cups, fountains and flower pots are some of the areas they prefer, along with children’s toys and swimming pools. The best way to detract mosquitos is to keep yards clean with no stagnant water buildup. Mosquito repellant that contains diethyltoluamide (DEET) is also conducive to keeping anyone safe.
Students conducting research with Dr. Wise have been recognized nationally for their contributions to this research.
“What I want them to understand is that the power to find out unknowns is in their hands,” said Dr. Wise.
Watch this episode of SciTech Now airing Friday, Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m. on KLRN.