USF researchers ask Tampa Bay residents to track mosquitos via smartphone app

Researchers at the University of South Florida are seeking public assistance in tracking mosquitos in the Tampa Bay area. was built by Ryan Carney, Assistant Professor of Digital Science at USF, and other academics. The dashboard displays information from three different apps: iNaturalist, Globe Observer, and Mosquito Alert.

People can use one of the apps to upload images of dead or alive mosquitos, according to Carney. USF employs artificial intelligence to identify mosquito species based on the data collected.

“When you think about it, the mosquito, that’s the deadliest animal on the planet; it’s responsible for over 700 million infections and nearly one million deaths; that’s probably an underestimation,” said Ryan Carney.

Recently, health officials in Sarasota County confirmed six cases of malaria. Carney said identifying the species of mosquito is significant.

“The parasite that causes malaria is only transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes, so here in Florida, we have 80 different species of mosquitoes, 14 of those species are Anopheles,” said Carney.

The National Science Foundation awarded USF a grant to investigate the population roughly three years ago. Carney hopes that people would download the applications and assist researchers in tracking the population so that mosquito-borne illnesses can be prevented.

“You can think of them as little flying hypodermic needles of disease, and so we’re asking citizen scientists to help us to find those malaria-spreading needles in the Florida haystack,” said Carney.

To view the dashboard and learn more about each app, visit:

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