Building a better mosquito trap

I have not tried these yet, I will build a few in the spring and see how they do and report back here. In the meantime, it’s too cool not to post it.

A scientist in Australia has come up with an insecticide-free way to control a particularly pesky species of mosquito.

The approach involves two things: deploying a decidedly low-tech mosquito trap called a GAT and getting to know your neighbors.

GAT stands for Gravid Aedes Trap. Aedes is short for Aedes albopictus, known colloquially as the Asian tiger mosquito, which bites aggressively night and day.

The trap doesn’t look particularly impressive — it’s basically three plastic buckets stacked together. The top and bottom buckets are black. The mosquitoes fly into the trap through a hole in the top bucket, but they seem to have a hard time flying back out through the hole. To make matters worse (for the mosquito) you can dangle a piece of sticky paper inside the top bucket to catch a wayward pest that happens to land there.

Building A Better Mosquito Trap — One Scientist Thinks He’s Done It


GAT Mosquito Traps Can Be Effective Even without Pesticides

More…
Take Back Our Yards: Using GATs to Control Mosquitoes in Our Town

I looked around a bit and there are trap kits for sale online. There are plastic cups that are all black and plenty of clear plastic containers available on Amazon or Walmart

Sap-sucking bugs manipulate their host plants’ metabolism for their own benefit

Stink bug

Free-living insects are able to move between and feed from different plants in the wild, unlike their less mobile endophytic counterparts, which spend a large part of their lives in a restricted area of the plant, often inside the tissues. When plants are targeted by bugs that depend on them for food and shelter, they often rely on defence responses that deter their attackers. However, some insects manipulate these mechanisms to counter the plants’ defence and even create a better nutritional environment around feeding sites. Until now, it was believed that only endophytic insects employed this strategy. … more

Cytokinin transfer by a free-living mirid to Nicotiana attenuata recapitulates a strategy of endophytic insects

Invading lizards from Cuba

Cuban brown anole have been moving in and pushing the native green anoles out. If you see any take a few minutes to fill out the survey for the SW Center for Herpetological Research (link below)

Houston Arboretum, A new lizard in town

Southwestern Center for Herpetological Research, Survey on sitings of Cuban Brown Anole

The Green Anole, Your Resident Backyard Lizard, Is Being Pushed Out By Its Uglier Cousin

I have a bee colony

Sigh. This wasn’t a planned event. I was fetching a pot and discovered it had been taken over by a honey bee colony. I’m working on finding them a new home.

After a bit of digging it is clear that keeping them or relocating them myself is not a good plan. 3BeeGuys.com is coming this afternoon to relocate them.

Venomous Snakes

In lower Montgomery, upper Harris county we have 4 venomous snakes, only 3 of which you are likely to run across: Southern Copperhead, Western Cottonmouth, Texas Coral snake. Below are photos pointing out the identifying marks.

I often see coral and copperhead snakes sunning themselves on trails along the bayous in the summer.

Other resources:
Venomous Texas Snakes
What snake is that?
Texas Snakes
Venomous Snake Safety

Insects and plant evolution go hand in hand

Scientists removed insects from fields of primrose for several years.

In just a few generations the primrose relaxed it’s defenses against insects and devoted more energy to competing for space and resources.


In the study, 16 identical plots were set up that contained the same relative numbers of 18 unique genotypes of native evening primrose. During each growing season, half the plots were treated biweekly with an insecticide; the other half were not.

The offspring of evening primrose are mostly clones of the parent due to self-pollination and other factors in primrose reproduction.

Of the genotypes that remained in the plots without insects, the researchers found more plants with relaxed defenses. By 2010 and even more in 2011, there was a shift toward plants that flowered earlier. When insects are present, later-flowering plants do better due to the timing of insect development, where larvae tend to eat the fruits of early flowering plants. Also, over time, there was a shift toward primroses with lower amounts of insect-deterring chemicals in the fruits, suggesting that in the wild, selection had been strongest for defense against flower and fruit eating insects.

Finally, without insects, primroses were better able to compete against dandelions – primrose genotypes that led to larger plants were favored when compared to the controls.

“The effects of insect pests can have immediate consequences for plant health and also sweeping consequences for evolution of entire communities,” Agrawal said.

Video interview with Anurag Agrawal
Insect Herbivores Drive Real-Time Ecological and Evolutionary Change in Plant Populations
Insects shape the genetic landscape through plant defenses