Summer is a Good Time to Test This New 3D Printed Mosquito Catcher

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August is a good time to talk about mosquitoes—mainly our frustration with them—as the heat, rain, and mugginess of the summer months roll on, leaving researchers from both the UK and London to test out a new 3D printed trap. Pointing out how affordably such devices can be created via 3D printing, the researchers experimented with actual field performance of a 3D printed mosquito light trap baited with carbon dioxide, outlining their work in ‘Field testing of a lightweight, inexpensive, and customizable 3D printed mosquito light trap in the UK.’

The innovative mosquito trap was created with ‘minimal production,’ fabricated with lightweight materials and designed to be smaller than most traps but offer the same performance. With less bulk invested in the battery area, the researchers were able to create a more portable device which they tested for 12 nights in the UK at Rainham Marshes, Essex—an area often surveilled by public health officials examining and targeting mosquitoes and ‘exotic pathogens.’

The panels show: (A) the 3D-printed trap blueprint comprising three pieces; (B) the 3D-printed trap in field operation; and (C) trap size comparisons between the 3D-printed trap, CDC light trap, and BG-Sentinel 2 trap.

The team was able to compare their new 3D printed device to other ‘gold-standard’ traps as follows:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) light trap baited with CO2, – battery operated and used to collect many different types of mosquitoes.
  • BG Sentinel 2 trap with BG-Lure and CO2. – meant to catch mosquitoes during the day and night, notably the Aedes and Culex species.

“Together with others, these traps provide effective and rapidly deployable mosquito trapping capabilities. However, for some organizations and governments, the trap and shipping costs can be prohibitive for large-scale deployment,” stated the researchers.

Other features of the new trap include:

  • Weight of 238 grams (553g and 977g lighter than the CDC light trap and BG-Sentinel 2 trap)
  • Cost of $12.46 USD, resulting in a savings of over 90 percent
  • Total set-up costs to make ten 3D printed traps was $906.18 USD, resulting in a savings of over 60 percent.

The team reported that 1,154 mosquitoes were collected, including eight species and four genera—with the 3D printed device catching more than any of the other devices. While the more traditional devices caught around 310 mosquitoes each, the 3D printed trap was responsible for collection of 532.

“The dominant two species across the sampling methods were Culiseta (Culicellamorsitans (Theobald 1901) (866 samples, 75.0%) and Culex pipiens s.l. (238, 20.6%). The remaining six species totaled fewer than 10 samples, except for 25 samples of Anopheles (Anophelesclaviger s.s. (Meigen 1804). No statistical significance was observed between the total and species-sex stratified numbers of mosquitoes,” stated the researchers.

Despite the obvious benefits of the new trap, the researchers pointed out that it has only been tested at one site so far, offering only a limited number of conclusions in terms of experimental study. Also, they used a yeast mixture to create CO2, which could result in variances.

“Furthermore, the trap has not been tested for its efficacy in trapping invasive Aedes or Anopheles species, an important component of surveillance systems in many parts of the world. No invasive species are established in the UK despite recent detections,” stated the team.

“Further studies in the UK and further afield are underway to address these data gaps but we envisage a collaborative approach to gathering further data on trap performance for collecting different species to allow for optimization. This includes testing the trap with different attractant blends or visual cues relevant to the target mosquito species in general. The flexibility of the 3D design allows for such modifications to be made with relative ease.”

Study site and six sampling points in Essex, UK. The box on the top left shows the study site location within the UK, with the six sampling points magnified. Data from Natural Earth (https://www.naturalearthdata.com) was used to obtain country and county boundaries, and satellite images are from Google Maps (https://www.google.com/maps).

Other concerns include:

  • Design of the trap may present limitations as the aluminum tape used on the electronic circuit area wore out several times. The researchers are considering use of more ‘robust materials,’ and may also experiment with integrated electronic circuits for the next 3D printed design of the trap.
  • Quality of the trap was very dependent on 3D printing parameters and filament. There is some concern that ‘budget-range 3D printers’ would not be able to produce a high-quality product as required for functionality.
  • Further customization would help in attracting other species of mosquitoes.

“With the low costs of this approach, we hope that both professional and amateur researchers will be able to contribute to the optimization and testing of the 3D-printed trap in different settings worldwide,” concluded the researchers.

“The collection bag frame could be improved further by adding in different-sized mesh layers to separate mosquitoes and other smaller or larger insects. Such a design would facilitate broad sampling of ‘vector species assemblages’ rather than simply targeting one species group as is the most commonly used approach. Using individual or blended semiochemical components that are attractive to multiple species groups is a challenging but achievable option for this.”

The three trap types, with CO2 bait, at sampling point 1: (A) 3D-printed trap; (B) CDC light trap; and (C) BG-Sentinel 2 trap. Each trap was connected to a yeast-mixture CO2 gas setup. The box plots represent the median and first and third quartiles of the main species of female mosquito collected in the three trap types. The y-axis is set to a log-scale.

Unless you are a scientist or specifically, an entomologist, you probably don’t enjoy bugs much. Mosquitoes are a particularly bad problem in some areas—not only because they bite and are pests, but because they can transmit disease too. 3D printing has been connected in many different innovations relating to bugs, including ways to trap them, but also in numerous 3D printed diagnostic devices to test for malaria and fight the disease in areas like Zambia, as well as other items like smartphone attachments for imaging and diagnosing.

What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts! Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.

[Source / Images: ‘Field testing of a lightweight, inexpensive, and customizable 3D printed mosquito light trap in the UK’]

 

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