Citizen-scientists: Uncle Sam wants you to fight Zika!

This 2006 photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a female Aedes aegypti mosquito in the process of acquiring a blood meal from a human host.

MIAMI (AP) – The mosquitoes that can spread Zika are already buzzing among us. The U.S. government could use some help figuring out exactly where.

There’s little money in government budgets to track the spread of disease-carrying mosquitoes. That’s why the U.S. Department of Agriculture is working to scale up a nationwide experiment in citizen-science.

The Invasive Mosquito Project is recruiting high school students and science teachers to collect mosquito eggs in their communities and upload the data to populate an online map. That provides real-time information about hot spots to help researchers and mosquito controllers respond.

The USDA entomologist coordinating the project also hopes to adapt its lesson plans for middle schools, scout troops and gardening clubs and make mosquito surveys as common as public bird counts for conservation groups.

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