Mozzie experiment aims to reduce the itch 


A team of experts, including Charles Darwin University researchers, is undertaking an experiment to improve the management of mosquito-borne diseases in Darwin.

The Health Minister, Chris Burns, recently joined the project team members who are comparing the effectiveness of burning vegetation with manual vegetation removal and aerial spraying.

The Health Department’s Senior Medical Entomologist, Dr Peter Whelan, said the team would ensure mosquito numbers were kept down and the threat of disease to Territorians was minimised.

“The work will provide invaluable information about controlling mozzie numbers and their lifecycle in general,” Mr Burns said.

“Not only is Dr Whelan doing important work here in the Territory, but he is involved in a three-year, $1m partnership with East Timor to tackle mosquito-borne viruses.

“I know the East Timorese Government finds his expertise, and those of other Territory specialists, to be critical to their own control efforts."

The experiment in Leanyer Swamp involves the use of 1m x 1m steel plots with bung holes which have been designed to learn whether burning vegetation within the plots was an effective method of controlling mosquito populations.

“Last week saw the highest tide of the year and the swamp became inundated with water, making it an ideal time to begin the experiment,” Dr Whelan said.

“We are now taking daily larval counts in the boxes, as well as counts of adult emergent mosquitoes.

“The plots will supply data about larval mosquito density in these areas and the transition between larval and adult life stages.”

As well as providing a comparison between different control measures, the experiment also will provide vital life-history data for the transition between larval and adult mosquitoes.

The research project involves Charles Darwin University, Menzies School of Health, the Health Department, Bureau of Meteorology, Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Environment, Department of the Chief Minister and the Department of Defence and the University of Tasmania.

The Northern Territory Government has supplied $800,000 and in-kind support to the project over three years with the Commonwealth set to match the funding.