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  • Writer's pictureDan English

The Queen’s Anniversary Prize

If I would have known I was helping to make history, maybe it would have been easier. If I had known how this work would be recognized, every painful mosquito bite would have hurt and itched a little less. The long, cold nights, constant rain, and mud would have put an even bigger smile on my face.

I'm humbled to work on a tiny part of a project honored by Brittain's Royal Family. The Queen's Anniversary Prize is coming to The University of Greenwich's National Research. The Institute is being recognized for its work in developing sustainable pest control methods. The Host Decoy Trap (HDT) is a is a big part of the Institute's efforts to sustainably control mosquitoes.

It was an honor for me to be among the first to use the Host Decoy Trap (HDT.) This new method of trapping mosquitoes could change the way the little bugs are monitored and help to eliminate or control some deadly diseases. Bill Gates proclaimed mosquitoes the most dangerous animal in human history. They can carry some of the most lethal pathogens known to man including; malaria, Ziika virus, and dengue. The HDT is an innovative design that doesn't use pesticides or chemicals to trap mosquitoes.

The Host Decoy Trap working in Chamanga, Ecuador.

The trap is innovative because it attracts mosquitoes based on scent, sense of warmth, and vision, according to the inventor, Dr. Frances Hawkes. She calls other trapping methods "reductive;" they only attract mosquitoes based on one sense. The HDT can help scientists trap mosquitoes without putting themselves at risk.

The primary way researchers trap mosquitoes is with a giant straw. Researchers sit with a leg exposed and a flashlight. The technique is called 'Human Landing Catch' or HLC. When a mosquito lands, they suck up the little bug with an aspirator that looks like a big straw, and they blow it into a collection cup. HLC can be problematic for many reasons. The biggest reason it's a problem is that researchers are putting themselves at risk for the very diseases they're trying to study by allowing mosquitoes to land on them.

Mosquitoes in a collection cup trapped by Human Landing Catch.

Researchers using an HDT will sleep in a tent at night, allowing their scent to permeate through a fan and a tube and onto a collection device that takes all the mosquito bites for them. The major part of my research was making sure the HDT works as well as allowing mosquitoes to land on you.

The Queen's Anniversary prize is significant recognition for the work Dr. Frances Hawkes is doing at the University of Greenwich and the National Research Institute. Congratulations to Her, researchers at the University of Greenwich, and students at the University of Notre Dame for helping to highlight work to make mosquito trapping healthier and more sustainable.

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