The mosquito-catching project is being launched this summer by Sweden's National Veterinary Institute (Statens veterinärmedicinska anstalt, SVA), in a bid to find invasive mosquito species.
When a similar project was carried out in 2013, the researchers came across the Anopheles algeriensis, a new species to Sweden.
There are several ways new mosquito species could end up in Sweden, according to researcher Anders Lindström at SVA, who heads up the mosquito-catching project. Last year, he caught a Culex modestus, a mosquito capable of transmitting the West Nile Virus, in the southern county of Skåne.
“The one I found last year in Skåne had probably moved on its own. It’s quite common in Denmark, just close to the (Öresund) bridge, and it had probably blown over with the wind. And there’s a fair number of species that actually travel with humans,” Lindström told The Local.
The invasive mosquito species that have come to Europe, for instance via goods like tyres or plants from Asia, could potentially pose a virus risk, according to Lindström. And being close to the European continent, southern Sweden is particularly susceptible.
“To be prepared if there’s an outbreak, we want to know the exact distribution of the species in southern Sweden. I will go down there in the summer and look for it myself, but I don’t have time to go everywhere, so that’s why we want people to send in mosquitoes,” he said.
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So how do you go about catching a mosquito? Well, the first thing to remember is to resist the urge to swat it, according to Lindström.
“You can use a glass or a cup and you put it over the mosquito, if it’s resting on a wall or if it’s on your arm. You trap it and then you slide a paper underneath it, then put it in the freezer so it dies. Then you put tissue paper around your dead mosquito and put it in a matchbox or something. Then you send it to me, and we will identify it.”
Watch Anders Lindström showing how to catch a mosquito in this video – the instructions begin at the 1:00 mark:
Anyone up for sending in mosquitoes can do so until the end of August 2017. Mosquitoes should be sent by post to: SVA, MIK, Anders Lindström, 751 89 Uppsala, Sweden.
Interview by Veronika Chlumska.