In 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.
Over the past two months my group has been working on hatching mosquitoes from eggs we collected over the summer. Unfortunately, none of our eggs have hatched. At first we assumed the eggs could simply be re hydrated but have now learned that is not the case. Mosquito eggs need nutrients in the water to be able to grow and eventually hatch.
We have had even more issue with our nutrient solution. We have tried three different solutions but so far none have been effective(all eggs remained unhatched and dissolved oxygen levels were extremely high). We have contacted Western North Carolina and are hoping they are able to help us create a successful nutrient broth so we can start our tests.
Once our mosquitoes have hatched we will run them through a y-tube olfactometer to see scent attractiveness to local flowers.