The Zika virus is still raging on. It doesn’t look like it will stop anytime soon, which is why many people are thinking up new ways to fight mosquitoes.
One of these is a new tool to identify mosquito species. Once you identify the species, you can know if the insects that live around you are a threat to you.
Shazam for Mosquitoes
Today’s innovation comes from Stanford University. Here, students are developing a Shazam for mosquitoes. This smartphone application will record the buzz of mosquito wings and then use that sound to identify the type of mosquito it is. On top of that, this type of application would allow the developers to create a comprehensive map of mosquito distribution. This map could help people avoid mosquitoes because they would know beforehand exactly what mosquitoes live in each area.
How can you differentiate mosquito species using nothing more than their buzz? Well, mosquitoes use their buzzing wings to attract mates. Since each species of mosquito only mates within the same species, each species needs to have a distinctive buzz. Luckily for us, that means these wing sounds can easily be used to tell which species mosquito is near you.
Are our cellphones really able to record the faint sound of a mosquito’s wings? Yes, because the buzzing sounds that mosquitoes make are so distinct that they can even our old flip phones can pick them up. Your high-tech smartphones should have no problem helping you avoid mosquitoes. Since the app will need less than half a second of sound to work, you won’t even have to go chase after the mosquitoes. Just raise your smartphone into the air when there’s a mosquito nearby and you’ll be good to go.
Of course, there are a couple of problems that this app will have to overcome before it can be put to use. The first problem is that the buzz of a mosquito isn’t usually the only sound around. So, before this app can launch, the developers have to solve the background noise problem.
The app should automatically display information about the particular species of mosquito whose sound you’ve recorded, including if that particular mosquito species carries any diseases.
Finally, many skeptics think that different environmental factors could also influence the sound that each species of mosquito makes. If true, this could further interfere with the accuracy of the app. So, this needs to be thoroughly researched as well.
Overall, this seems like a wonderful tool to aid in the fight against mosquitoes in the future. It would be quite helpful to know if the mosquitoes around us are potential carries of Zika, West Nile virus, malaria, or any other mosquito-borne disease. So, let’s hope that this type of app will be available soon.