We need your help to search for 'Zika mosquitoes' (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus species - that have the potential to spread viruses such as Zika or dengue).
As part of the 'Zika Mozzie Seeker' project, we're asking the public in our region to set up DIY backyard mosquito egg traps, collect the eggs and send them in for analysis.
The project uses revolutionary screening technology developed by Queensland Health and is a world-first for mosquito monitoring.
We will mass screen the eggs you collect for traces of the DNA of Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. This will allow us to increase our confidence that such mosquitoes are not in our region and detect any invasions of these mosquitoes more easily.
How do I take part?
To take part you must live in the Metro South Health region: Brisbane southside, Logan, Redland/Bayside, Beaudesert and parts of the Scenic Rim.
You will be sent a free 'egg collection kit' in the post when the round starts, which provides the items you need (apart from a container filled with water) to create your mozzie egg trap. Also look out for project updates on this website.
What kind of mozzies are we looking for?
Zika and Dengue are largely spread by two domestic mosquito species (Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus). These 'Zika mosquitoes' are present elsewhere in Queensland but have not been detected in South East Queensland recently. This project will help us search for these mosquitoes to increase confidence that they are not present in our region of South East Queensland.
'Zika mosquitoes' are domestic species – they live in yards of houses and businesses and the adults are unlikely to fly more than 500 metres from breeding sites (commonly artificial containers that hold water). These mosquito species are not found in swamps and drains.
Mozzie Monitors(University of South Australia– participants trap mozzies and send photographs of the mozzies to researchers)
Mozzie Augmented Reality (AR) for primary schools (Queensland University of Technology, Metro South Heath, CSIRO and Toohey Forest Environmental Education Centre – a resource being developed to engage children to hunt for mosquito breeding sites in their backyard)
STEM Champion Mozzie Hunters. We will collaborate with QIMR Berghofer and QUT to develop a capability for secondary schools to explore the use of molecular technologies for unban mosquito surveillance.
Zika Mozzie Seekers recognised in national Eureka Science Awards
The Zika Mozzie Seeker initiative was a finalist for the 2019 Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Innovation in Citizen Science thanks to the valuable contributions of hundreds of Zika Mozzie Seekers.
Brian Montgomery (project manager) and the team are thrilled with the national recognition and look forward to continuing the program in Metro South Health.
The innovative combination of citizen science, IT solutions and DNA testing is an effective early warning system for Zika mozzie invasions. It is a great example of Queensland Health combining forces with the community and sharing responsibility for an important health risk.
Over the last 2.5 years, the testing of mosquito eggs collected from your yards has increased our confidence that Zika mosquitoes have not yet invaded of our region, which protects us from outbreaks. So far, all 200,000 eggs collected have tested negative for Zika mozzies.
Community participation in this hands-on citizen science program is key to the success and sustainability of the project. These mozzies typically do not fly more than a few hundred metres from breeding sites (artificial containers that can hold water), which means we require lots of Zika Mozzie Seekers from across our region (southern half of Brisbane, Redlands, Logan and parts of the Scenic Rim).
The challenge remains to find Zika mozzies in Metro South Health before they can carry exotic diseases such as Zika, dengue or chikungunya.