Skip to Main Content

Guide to Adult Mosquito Surveillance Equipment: Finding the Right Traps for Your Mosquito Control Program

written by

Modern mosquito control programs in the U.S. are becoming increasingly sophisticated when it comes to mosquito surveillance. Surveillance is a blanket term for monitoring mosquito populations over time in an integrated mosquito management program. It is the key to understanding local species mix, breeding habitats, population levels, and the potential for arbovirus disease cycles. Here’s an overview of the most frequently used tools for adult mosquito surveillance, including established and emerging technologies for conducting and managing mosquito surveillance activities.

BG Sentinel Trap by Biogents

The Sentinel trap by Biogents is a world-renowned mosquito monitoring trap technology.  It was originally developed to collect and monitor populations of “container breeder” Aedes mosquitoes, the species capable of vectoring dengue, chikungunya, Zika, and yellow fever. With nearly 20 years of operational use, the Sentinel trap design has been proven to also successfully capture Culex mosquitoes. An even wider range of mosquitoes can be collected in the BG Sentinel when used in conjunction with a carbon dioxide attractant.

Advantages of the Sentinel trap:

  • Lightweight, easy transport and set-up
  • Flexible attractant options, including Biogents’ proprietary BG Lure that mimics the scent of human skin, a carbon dioxide canister, or UV light
  • Collects mosquitoes usable for disease testing
  • Various low-wattage power-source options, including battery, solar or electric

Drawbacks of the Sentinel:

  • Susceptible to theft
  • Attractant and/or power sources may require regular replenishment

BG Pro by Biogents

The BG Pro is a flexible, easy-to-use trap for collecting mosquitoes of all types, and is the newest mosquito trap innovation from Biogents. With the BG Pro, surveillance programs have the flexibility to take the modular components of the trap kit, and assemble them into any trap style that suits their specific needs, including formats that mimic the functionality of the CDC Light Trap and the BG Sentinel trap. Plus, the BG Pro can be used with Biogents’ BG Counter technology, enabling remote monitoring capabilities.

BG Pro advantages :

  • Is lightweight, easy transport and set-up, fully contained trap kit
  • Offers optimal flexibility to configure trap components into any of the common mosquito trap types
  • Is compatible with all Biogents attractants, including Biogents’ newest innovation, CO2 from yeast fermentation, CO2 canisters, and UV light
  • Collects various mosquito species and preserved specimens for disease testing
  • Uses various power source options, including electric, batteries, portable power bank and even solar

BG Pro drawbacks:

  • Attractant requires regular replenishment
  • Susceptible to theft
  • Potential for power source failure

BG Counter by Biogents

The most advanced level of mosquito surveillance today is found with the Biogents’ Counter technology. It is recommended for use with Biogents’ BG Pro trap, and enables remote, cloud-based monitoring of mosquito populations.

The BG Counter is able to differentiate mosquitoes from other insects entering the trap by sensing wing-speed, and maintains a running count of mosquitoes entering the trap. This data is wirelessly transmitted to a cloud-based server in real-time, which users can access “on-demand” through a web portal.

BG Counters enable various advantages for surveillance programs:

  • Reduces labor time associated with trap management and specimen counting/sorting
  • Provides on-demand reporting and surveillance data access
  • Gives more detailed insight into peak mosquito activity windows for better-timed control treatments
  • Offers immediate visibility into control treatment effectiveness

Some drawbacks of the BG Counter:

  • Dependent on wireless data network (4/5G)
  • Requires additional web subscription service to access trap data
  • Additional investment
  • Risk of theft

New Jersey Light Trap

The New Jersey Light Trap was the very first trap type used to monitor male and female adult mosquito populations, with origins dating back to the 1930s.  The New Jersey Light Trap uses a basic light bulb to attract mosquitoes and a motorized fan to draw mosquitoes into the trap itself.  This trap is primarily used to measure the overall abundance of mosquito populations and establish historical population trends.

Advantages of the New Jersey Light Trap:

  • Attracts multiple mosquito species
  • Proven and effective
  • Stationary device, one-time set-up (per season)
  • Affordable

Drawbacks of the New Jersey light trap:

  • Light bulb attractant competes with other light sources near trap location
  • Attracts many insects, not just mosquitoes
  • Requires electricity access
  • Motorized fan or other collected insects damage specimens entering the trap, making species identification challenging
  • Time-consuming for technicians to “rough sort” mosquitoes from other insects collected in the trap
  • Heavy, cumbersome equipment is time-intensive to install and remove

CDC Light Trap or ABC Trap

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) invented the ABC Trap, also called the CDC Light Trap, in the 1950s. This popular mosquito trap is battery-powered and uses carbon dioxide (CO2), in the form of dry ice or a CO2 tank, to attract mosquitoes into the trap.  CDC Light Traps are largely used to monitor the overall species mix and population levels within a surveillance network, as well as collect specimens for disease testing.

The advantages of the CDC Light Trap:

  • Lightweight trap that attracts only mosquitoes
  • Captures a great variety of mosquito species
  • Mosquitoes are captured “alive” and can be used for disease testing
  • Battery-powered, not reliant on electricity
  • Proven and effective

Drawbacks of the CDC Light Trap:

  • Labor intensive to set and then return to collect, check and sort/count
  • Potential for battery failure, causing gaps in surveillance data
  • Susceptible to theft

Gravid Trap

Gravid traps are intended primarily to monitor local Culex mosquito populations, the primary vector for West Nile Virus (WNV). Using “stagnant” water (infused with hay, grass, or similar organic material) as an attractant, female Culex mosquitoes are drawn to this trap to lay their eggs.  Adult females from the trap can be used for West Nile Virus testing.

Advantages of a Gravid trap:

  • Economical
  • Portable, lightweight, easy set-up
  • Battery-powered
  • West Nile Virus monitoring

Gravid trap drawbacks:

  • Collection is limited to Culex species
  • Does not indicate population levels
  • Labor intensive to set, check, and manage
  • Potential for battery failure

Using the Right Mix of Mosquito Control Surveillance Traps

Most mosquito control programs find that a combination of all available surveillance technologies best suits their needs for monitoring population levels and detecting arbovirus disease cycles. Looking for guidance on the right surveillance mix to monitor your local populations? Drop us a line here and our mosquito control experts can help.

Background Image

Protect. Conserve. Control With Clarke.

Find out what a sustainable mosquito control program looks like for your community.

Connect with Clarke