Mosquitoes live in numerous world regions, with more than 3,000 types already determined. A few of these are transmission vectors of several diseases, such as malaria, yellow fever, or dengue. According to the World Health Company, 627,000 individuals died of malaria in 2020.
It is specifically to control the expansion of mosquitoes that the researcher Dinarte Vasconcelos is developing a tech option within the scope of his Doctoral thesis. “My research aims to produce an economically practical option loaded with a set of sensors that can spot mosquitoes and distinguish them from other insects,” states the researcher. Nuno Nunes and João Pedro Gomes, professors at the Instituto Superior Técnico and researchers at the Institute of Interactive Technologies (ITI) and Institute of Systems and Robotics (ISR), respectively, advise the research study task.
Initially, the group tested microphones that captured the noise of the mosquitoes’ flapping wings. “As the frequency of the flapping of the wings differs in between species, it is possible to identify the pattern of the types discovered by the microphones,” explains Dinarte Vasconcelos. However, this approach enabled only the measurement within a short variety, and the system was not prepared to handle background sound. With the addition of infrared optical sensing units, it was possible to increase the system’s reach and make it durable against ambient sound. However, the existence of several species of pests needs using expert system to achieve better results. “We will need a database to identify which of the identified insects are mosquitoes,” he adds.
Under beneficial conditions, a female mosquito can hatch in between 100 and 200 eggs in 7 days, which is why the prototype must be able to identify males and females. “The lab tests we did in partnership with the Natural History Museum of Funchal expose that our system properly determined more than 90% of mosquitoes worrying species and sex”, says Dinarte Vasconcelos. Dinarte and the team carried out additional screening in Thailand in partnership with Mahidol University, where malaria-transmitting mosquitoes– Aedes and Anopheles, are present. The researchers carried out experiments near the Rajanagarindra Tropical Disease International Centre (RTIC). Here, the team placed light and solidified carbon dioxide traps to attract mosquitoes. They developed these tests to adjust sensing units, determine problems and enhance detection in a natural surroundings.
As soon as settled, the prototype will transfer info to health authorities through radio frequency to transmit data considering that it is more energy effective than WiFi, hence enabling a real-time mapping of mosquito presence. In this sense, the Interactive Technologies Institute, University College London, and the Regional Directorate of Health of Madeira signed a research procedure to develop a tracking system on Madeira Island.
In the future, researchers intend to continue the advancement of the innovation so that it can compare mosquitoes and other bugs. In addition to serving the initial purpose, researchers can use the very same technology to keep an eye on other insect species of specific interest, such as bees and other pollinators, whose population has actually been house over the past few years.