As our weather warms up and our waterways beckon, the 2020 mosquito season looms. And as it happens, I recently received an email from Courtney White at the NL Mosquito Project, informing me that the lab results for the 2019 season were in! My daughter and I were among many citizen participants in the project last year (you may remember the project being profiled by CBC). As it turns out, all of the mosquitos that our family trapped for the project last year belonged to two species: Aedes communis and Aedes excrucians. The scientists who named them must have known what they were talking about, because “common” and “excruciating” definitely sound about right!
Our samples were all collected in the Happy Valley-Goose Bay area, and both species were snowpool mosquitos, meaning that they hatch in temporary pools of melted snow during the spring and then hang around as adults through the summer. But that is just one of many life patterns that mosquito species can follow. As participants in the Labrador Land and Waters Science Camp learned last year, there are at least 25 different kinds of mosquito in Labrador!
A May 23 post of the NLMP notes 39 species in the province (29 identified in this project alone), and various sources post the global total at over 3,000! Check out the NLMP Facebook page for detailed information on the different moquitos that occur in this province, along with some nifty maps of where the project participants have collected them.
Citizen science projects like this one are a great way to participate in advancing our collective knowledge of the world around us. For another ongoing project on wildlife sightings, including birds, you might also check out NL Nature; and for a project on monitoring and combating microplastic pollution, see CLEAR. There are also countless international projects, and many of these have local relevance too. For example last year NL beekeepers promoted a fun, ongoing project called Bumble Bee Watch, which invites you to get out and take photos of bees in action.
Whatever you’re interested in, try typing it into your favourite search engine alongside “citizen science.” You might be surprised at the opportunities that turn up!