Mosquito Group: the Y-tube Olfactometer

emmaIn order to find out what flower scents attract mosquitoes, we had to make a version of an y-tube olfactometer, which is a device used by many scientists to test attractiveness of certain scents to insects.  The olfactometer we made is designed specifically for mosquitoes.  Air is generated from an air pump.  It is pushed through a charcoal filter and then splits in two directions.  On each side, the air flows into a glass chamber, which will eventually hold the flowers we are testing.  Due to air pressure building up in the chamber, the air (now picking up the scent of the flower) is forced back up into another tube.  This tube carries it into a glass vial filled with water.  The purpose of this is to moisturize the water (keep in mind that this is happening on both legs of the olfactometer).  After this, the air is pumped into a thick glass tube with a diameter of one inch.  The two glass tubes are connected to another piece of glass tubing (only about six inches long) by a 3D-printed three-way connector.  A jar is connected to the six-inch piece of glass and serves as a “release chamber” for the mosquitoes.

Update on the tardigrade group

Emma 2Everything is well in the tardigrade group.  We recently conducted our glyphosate ( an herbicide) trials, in which we put different dilutions of the herbicide into each well of a 12-well plate.  There were also 4 tardigrades in each well.  Over a course of 3-4 days, it was discovered that all the tardigrades (except for the control that had no chemical) died after about 3 days of exposure to glyphosate.  Starting Monday, November 30, we plan to begin our imidacloprid trials.


A tardigrade is not what you might think.  No, it is not a late grade.  A tardigrade is actually a microscopic organism that lives in moss and lichen and is all around you.  You may have heaEmmard them referred to as “moss piglets” or “water bears”.  Tardigrades are actually pretty cool.  They are the first animal ever to survive in space and can survive absolute zero, which is -459.67 degrees Fahrenheit!  Tardigrades are also able to go into a dormant state commonly known as cryptobiosis, or more specifically, anhydrobiosis.  In anhydrobiosis, all the water in the tardigrade is pushed out; it’s kind of like hibernation.  In this state, the tardigrade is able to survive many months–even years without water!  But don’t worry–these little guys wouldn’t hurt a fly.  You just might want to think twice next time before stepping on that patch of moss!