In February, I had the opportunity to be apart of a few short videos on one of my favorite topics: mosquitoes! While we didn’t record the videos until February, there was a great deal of preparation that went into this. The videos are not very long, but it was essential that we ensured every bit of information presented was factual and vetted by multiple experts in the field.
These videos, which add up to a total of less than 15 minutes, took 5 full days of filming to get done! I was asked to 1) serve as a content expert and help develop the videos and 2) talk about mosquito biology and control on camera. Rob Nelson from Untamed Science was the creative mastermind behind the videos and really created some fun and interesting videos. Jonas Stenstrom was there to help get the footage for the videos. Side note: they make videos about science and consistently produces great videos. Check out more of their other work at the link above!
The filming of these videos was funded by a larger project, Prevent and Protect. As a collaborator on this project, I look forward to sharing more products of the grant with you as we finish them!
Back to the videos… In each one, we aim to answer a question that may be of interest to members of the public. We also wanted these videos to be a resource to anyone looking for a factual and educational piece to share. Because they are short, they are easy to watch and are packed with information.
The first video, below, asks which mosquitoes are BAD mosquitoes. As a mosquito biologist, people ask me this question all the time. What purpose do mosquitoes serve? Why can’t we kill them all? Well, this video answers those questions and talks about basic mosquito biology. It also features the photography of Dr. Lary Reeves (on instagram @biodiversilary) who has a talent for highlighting just how beautiful and some mosquitoes are and their diversity.
In the last several years, much of my research has focused on the study of two species of mosquito. They develop in natural and artificial containers and tend to live around humans. They also can transmit pathogens that cause disease include dengue, chikungunya, and Zika. This next video focuses on what you can do to prevent mosquitoes from developing around your home. Dr. Andrea Lucky and I had some fun with this one and made a competition out of looking for larval mosquito habitat.
Mosquitoes are annoying and can make it hard to be outside, but they are more than a nuisance. They are a public health concern because they can transmit pathogens that cause disease. In Florida, we deal with transmission of different arboviruses (arthropod-borne virus) including West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis. In the not so distant past, Florida has also seen transmission of dengue, chikungunya, and Zika. The video below talks about these diseases and how we monitor for arboviruses that can cause disease in Florida.
And finally, my favorite video to film, the Mosquito Control 101 video. Mosquito control is a big reason why we can comfortably live in Florida. Without them, mosquitoes would certainly be more numerous. Additionally, without mosquito control responding to cases of vector-borne disease, they would likely be more prevalent as well. They play a critical role in protecting public health and we wanted to talk about that. Over the course of my PhD, I have had the opportunity to work with many of Florida’s programs and Volusia County Mosquito Control volunteered to represent what mosquito control looks like in the state. I want to extend a huge thank you to Volusia County Mosquito Control for helping us make this video and I hope this gives people a glimpse of what operational mosquito control looks like.
Aside from our mission to create educational videos, Rob also wanted to have some “fun”. He told me that he just couldn’t leave Florida without letting one of our colony cages of mosquitoes feed on him and Jonas. We don’t usually have people that voluntary want to feed our hungry females, but it sure made for an interesting video! Rob let the mosquitoes feed on his arm and Jonas had them feed on his back. They went live on instagram during this so their followers could ask mosquito related questions. Enjoy!
Being part of these videos was a learning experience for me and it was great to see Rob and Jonas power through the filming process. It was a really fun (and busy) 5 days, but I think everyone is very pleased with how the videos turned out. Also, I got some fun pictures out of it!