USU Researcher Tracking Mosquitoes With Satellite Photos

Mar 24, 2021, 6:29 PM | Updated: 8:44 pm

LOGAN, Utah – A researcher at Utah State University has started tracking disease-carrying mosquitoes with the help of satellite photos.

The high-tech photos, combined with good old-fashioned research on the ground, can predict the pests’ movement.

It won’t be long before the mosquitoes start hatching. They are always annoying, but some are worse than others.

“For this paper, we’re looking at Aedes aegypti,” said Norah Saarman.

She said the Aedes aegypti can bring a lot of dangerous and widespread diseases like dengue fever, yellow fever, chikungunya and the Zika virus.

USU researcher Norah Saarman. (KSL TV) The high-tech photos, combined with good old-fashioned research on the ground, can predict the pests' movement. (Evlyn Pless) The high-tech photos, combined with good old-fashioned research on the ground, can predict the pests' movement. (Siyang Xia) The high-tech photos, combined with good old-fashioned research on the ground, can predict the pests' movement. (Siyang Xia)

Saarman has examined their migration pattern.

Along with researchers at UC Davis and Yale, the team collected and mapped genetic data, something Saarman described as a family tree for mosquitos.

“And if we know where the ancestry is tracking across the landscape, then we can much more efficiently plan exactly where we do those releases or where it is safe to try it out,” she said.

Meaning where to try out treatments that have been effective in controlling mosquito populations and protecting humans from disease.

The ancestry data is combined with one more factor. “So these black dots are where we’ve collected mosquitos,” Saarman said.

NASA satellite map. (Mike Anderson/KSL-TV)

The dots are from satellite maps, mostly from NASA, that share data like rainfall, habitats and the impact of humans on the landscape. Unfortunately, a lot of the pests migrate by traveling with us.

“We’re really excited because the method was so successful — like, we got such a good measure of predictability,” Saarman explained.

The process has been about 83% accurate so far.

As of now, the Aedes aegypti has not made it into Utah, but it is nearing the southern border.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

Park City parking lot...

Katija Stjepovic

Park City to address pedestrian safety, affordable housing

Park City has invited the community to a public meeting Tuesday night to go over the city's hopes to improve the lack of affordable housing along with pedestrian, bike, and transit.

17 minutes ago

Candace Lierd walks into her bail hearing Tuesday (Court pool photo)...

Lauren Steinbrecher

Victims react after Exitus CEO denied bail

The former CEO for anti-human trafficking nonprofit, Exitus, was denied bail in a hearing on Tuesday. Further, more victims have come forward with accusations made against her and prosecutors say she is likely to face more charges.

32 minutes ago

child in doctor's office...

Mike Anderson

Flu, COVID cases expected to rise in Utah

The number of COVID-19 diagnoses continues to stay above what we saw over the summer but now some doctors are starting to see early signs of the flu as well.

48 minutes ago

People explore Utahraptor State Park...

Alex Cabrero

Ground broken for Utahraptor State Park near Moab

There are certain days Brookes Britt looks forward to. Monday was one of them.

1 hour ago

Tennis and pickleball courts...

Carter Williams, KSL.com

USA Pickleball unveils ‘pivotal’ product changes. Will it solve game’s leading complaint?

Despite adding many new courts in recent years, Mia McCain contends that Salt Lake City has struggled to meet the "huge, growing demand" associated with pickleball's rise in popularity.

3 hours ago

Candace Lierd. (KSL TV)...

Mary Culbertson

Bail denied for former nonprofit Exitus CEO, Candace Lierd

Former CEO of nonprofit Exitus appeared for a hearing where she was dismissed with no bail.

4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Design mockup half in white and half in color of luxury house interior with open plan living room a...

Lighting Design

Lighting Design 101: Learn the Basics

These lighting design basics will help you when designing your home, so you can meet both practical and aesthetic needs.

an antler with large horns int he wilderness...

Three Bear Lodge

Yellowstone in the Fall: A Wildlife Spectacle Worth Witnessing

While most people travel to this park in the summer, late fall in Yellowstone provides a wealth of highlights to make a memorable experience.

a diverse group of students raising their hands in a classroom...

Little Orchard Preschool

6 Benefits of Preschool for Kids

Some of the benefits of preschool for kids include developing independence, curiosity, and learning more about the world.

rodeo contestant on a saddle bronc...


Get Ready for the Days of ‘47 Rodeo!

The Days of '47 Rodeo is a series of events everyone in the family can enjoy, with world-class rodeo contestants vying for the gold medal.

Electric LED Lightbulb Change In Light At Home...

Lighting Design

How to Know When to Upgrade Your Lighting

This guide explores indicators that suggest it’s time for a lighting upgrade with tips to make an informed decision when you’re ready to buy. 

Brunette guy in headphones playing games on his desktop computer...

PC Laptops

Looking For a New Computer? Use This Desktop Buying Guide

Choosing a new desktop computer can come with a lot of questions, so we created this desktop buying guide.

USU Researcher Tracking Mosquitoes With Satellite Photos