News and stories

Citizen scientists needed to catch and dispatch mosquitoes


13 November 2020

Mosquitoes –  they are killing almost a million people every year, transmitting diseases and commonly disliked because they spoil the nicest summer holidays.

But not all mosquitoes are killers or a nuisance: New Zealand's 13 endemic mozzies mainly bite birds and have very specific habitats and living conditions which means they are quite vulnerable to changes in the environment compared to the introduced species who adapt easier.

We know of three introduced mosquito species which have made their home in Aotearoa. Unfortunately, these three introduced species are the main nuisance human biters in New Zealand and have spread and established themselves – whereas native species are possibly in decline.

Instead of squashing that mosquito on your leg, you could post it in to Te Papa and be part of New Zealand’s first mozzie census.

Don’t squash it: catch it, freeze it, and send it!

That’s the message from the national museum’s scientists, who are working with the Ministry of Health to collect mozzies from around the nation.

Te Papa curator Dr Julia Kasper
Te Papa curator Dr Julia Kasper

The census will help scientists work out which species are living in New Zealand, and where, giving valuable insights into our natural environment, and into climate change, which may be affecting the range of different mosquito species.

Te Papa curator Dr Julia Kasper says the census will fill some major gaps in our knowledge of mosquitoes in Aotearoa.

This is the second season, and so far we have mainly received two introduced species, which supports our initial assumption.

As well as helping us learn about our native mozzies, this census will help find out how widely spread the three introduced mosquitoes have become, and which pathways they took. This new information will help us form a clearer picture of the impact of factors such as changes in land use and climate change.

Also , there’s a chance we might even discover a new exotic species that have slipped into New Zealand undetected.

To be part of the mosquito census, follow the simple instructions on Te Papa’s website.

How to take part in the mosquito census – Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa