Arthropod vectors, such as mosquitoes, ticks, and flies, can transmit various disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and protozoa between vertebrate hosts. Studying the life cycles of such vectors may suggest strategies for limiting, or even stopping, the spread of the diseases they transmit. In this activity, students test variables that might affect the life cycle of the mosquito. Mosquitoes transmit a number of important diseases, such as malaria, West Nile disease, and dengue fever.
For this activity, students rear mosquitoes in chambers that allow them to make observations without risking the release of the insects into the classroom. Although it takes about two weeks for the mosquito life cycle, and this activity, to be completed, observations require only a few minutes each day. The activity is appropriate for a general, honors, or AP high school biology course and an undergraduate biology course. It can also be adapted for the middle school or primary school life science classroom.