A simple recording of a mosquito’s buzz on a cellphone could contribute to a global-scale mosquito tracking map of unprecedented detail. See video here.
It’s a sound that can keep even the weariest among us from falling asleep: the high-pitched whine of a mosquito. This irritating buzz already makes us run, slap and slather on repellant. But if Stanford University researchers have their way, it may also prompt us to take out our cellphones and do a little science.
The Prakash Lab at Stanford, led by Manu Prakash, assistant professor of bioengineering, is looking for citizen scientists to contribute to Abuzz, a mosquito monitoring platform the lab developed to produce the most detailed global map of mosquito distribution. All that’s required to participate is a cellphone to record and submit the buzz of a mosquito, which means almost anyone from around the world can take part in this work.
More than mere pests, mosquitoes can carry deadly diseases, including malaria, yellow fever, dengue, West Nile virus, chikungunya and Zika. Diseases spread by mosquitoes result in millions of deaths each year and the burden of their effects is carried most strongly by places with the fewest resources.
“We could enable the world’s largest network of mosquito surveillance – just purely using tools that almost everyone around the world now is carrying in their pocket,” said Prakash, who is senior author of a paper that demonstrates the feasibility of this approach, published in the Oct. 31 issue of eLife. “There are very limited resources available for vector surveillance and control and it’s extremely important to understand how you would deploy these limited resources where the mosquitoes are.”
With enough contributions from citizen scientists around the world, Abuzz could create a map that tells us exactly when and where the most dangerous species of mosquitoes are most likely to be present and that could lead to highly targeted and efficient control efforts.
“If you see a mosquito and you swat it, you’ve saved yourself an itch for one day. But if you see a mosquito and you record it and you send the data to the Abuzz project, then you’ve potentially contributed to an effort that can reduce the burden of mosquito-borne disease for many generations in the future, hopefully,” said Haripriya Mukundarajan, a graduate student in the Prakash Lab and lead author of the paper.
Abuzz is a low-cost, fast, easy way to gain an incredible amount of new data about mosquitoes. Contributing to this research is as simple as holding a cellphone microphone near a mosquito, recording its hum as it flies and uploading the recording to the Abuzz website. The researchers take the raw signal, clean up that audio to reduce background noise and run it through an algorithm that matches that particular buzz with the species that is most likely to have produced it.
Once the match is found, the researchers will send the person who submitted the recording information about the mosquito they found and mark every recording on a map on the website, showing exactly where and when that mosquito species was sighted.
Critical to the success of Abuzz is the fact that mosquito species can be differentiated by the frequency of their wingbeats, which is what produces their characteristic whine. Knowing this, Prakash and his team created a mosquito sound library, organized by species, which powers the matching algorithm. Overall, the researchers captured about 1,000 hours of mosquito buzzing from 18 lab-reared and two wild mosquito species, all of which were species relevant to human health.
Recognizing that people who could benefit most from Abuzz may not have access to the latest smartphones, the researchers designed the platform so that it can work off recordings from almost any model of cellphone. Most of the data they focused on in the study was recorded on a $20 clamshell-style cellphone from 2006.
Further simplifying the process, the Abuzz algorithm has worked using as little as one fifth of a second of sound – although recordings that are a second or longer are the most desirable. Such basic requirements mean that merely recording near a mosquito just as it takes off from a surface is enough to create an Abuzz-worthy recording.
To assure that Abuzz works the way they’ve intended, the researchers ran a field test with 10 local volunteers in a village in Ranomafana, Madagascar in 2016. It took about 10 minutes to train these citizen scientists. The next day, they returned with 60 recordings that spanned three hours.
“It was very easy to tell people what to do and people were very eager to participate,” recalled Felix Hol, a postdoctoral research fellow and co-author of the paper who helped conduct this field study. “Just 10 minutes of training and they could actually produce a lot of very usable data. That was a very beautiful experience for me.”
For any of the grandest aims of Abuzz to be possible, it needs engagement from citizen scientists. Without those contributions, it cannot reach its full potential. The group intends to release an app to facilitate community engagement in the near future and have already produced detailed training videos.
“What I would love to see is people engaging in the problem,” Prakash said. “Try to join the platform. Record mosquitoes. Learn about the biology. And in that process, you will be supporting the kind of research and scientific data that we and medical entomologists around the world so desperately need and, at the same time, you will be making your own community safer.”
The Latest on: Mosquito tracking
- Pestmaster of Columbus Provides Exceptional Bed Bug Control in the Local Areaon July 2, 2021 at 3:56 pm
Pestmaster of Columbus Provides Exceptional Bed Bug Control in the Local Area Bed bugs are a serious issue throughout the local area which is why many people rely ...
- Mosquito from Taylor tests positive for West Nile viruson July 2, 2021 at 7:04 am
Taylor is located in eastern Williamson County, in close proximity to Pflugerville, Hutto and Round Rock. A second trap, collected in Granger, also contained a mosquito that tested positive for the ...
- ‘Apex Legends’ bug briefly adds five player teams with Genesis eventon June 30, 2021 at 6:11 pm
Respawn’s latest update to 'Apex Legends' is out now. At release, a bug briefly allowed teams of five into the three-person battle royale.
- The Bug announces first album in seven yearson June 30, 2021 at 11:06 am
The Bug has announced his first solo full-length album in seven years. The 14-track release is called ‘Fire’ and will be released on August 27 on Ninja Tune. It is the third in his series of projects ...
- The Bug Returns with First New Album in Seven Yearson June 29, 2021 at 8:49 am
At long last, Kevin Martin is returning as the Bug. On August 27, he will release his first solo album from his long-running project in ...
- Global Bug Tracking Platforms Market Entry Strategies, Countermeasures of Economic Impact and Marketing Channels to 2027on June 28, 2021 at 8:45 am
Jun (The Expresswire) -- "Final Report will add the analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on this industry" “Bug Tracking Platforms Market” is ...
- What we know so far about the mosquito-borne disease EEE in Mass. this yearon June 24, 2021 at 6:18 pm
The mosquito-borne virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, better known as EEE, is expected to make a return to Massachusetts this year. Last week, crews across the state began their annual mosquito ...
- Creating a Discord bug-hunting leaderboardon June 24, 2021 at 6:25 am
Encouraging and thanking players for submitting bug reports by setting up a pipeline from in-game bug reporting to a Discord leaderboard bot via a Postgres database.
- Patch Tor Browser Bug to Prevent Tracking of Your Online Activitieson June 23, 2021 at 1:43 am
You'll need to update the Tor privacy browser to fix a security flaw that allows malicious sites to track your online activity.
- Mosquito Repellent Market worth $9.0 Billion by 2026 - Exclusive Report by MarketsandMarkets™on June 22, 2021 at 4:30 am
According to the new market research report "Mosquito Repellent Market by Repellent Type (Spray, Vaporizer, Cream & Oil, Coil, Mat), After ...
via Google News and Bing News