Swarming mosquitoes

In this project, Trackit 3D was used to track multiple swarming mosquitoes at 210 fps using two digital cameras. The study was performed by the Vosshall group at the Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior at the Rockefeller University in New York and the results published in Cell (McMeniman, C. J., Corfas, R. A., Matthews, B. J., Ritchie, S. A., & Vosshall, L. B. (2014). Multimodal Integration of Carbon Dioxide and Other Sensory Cues Drives Mosquito Attraction to Humans. Cell, 156(5), 1060-1071, 2014).

The animation shows flight data of swarming Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Trackit 3D was used to extract the 3D position data in real time, avoiding the need to store huge amounts of video data and post process them. The real time feature of Trackit 3D not only allowed a continuous measurement during 40 minutes, but also to synchronize the release of CO2 during the experiment (t=0 in the animation).


SciTrackS provided a custom designed setup to perform the desired flight measurements. The flight chamber (width: 1.2m) is constructed from transparent plexiglas side walls, a black rear door and floor and a translucent top to allow ambient light to enter and allow the mosquitoes to swarm.

A camera mounting rig holds the cameras during experiments. For easier transport, the rig is detachable and the main box mounted on wheels. The flight chamber is equipped with a humindity control unit to provide a constant high humidity level.



SciTrackS designed the setup under close consideration of the lighting and filming geometry. The flight chamber is shown in blue, the camera views in pink. The chosen geometry provides a good overlap of the camera views for 3D tracking in a volume roughly corresponding to the volume outlined in green. Two near infra red (NIR) lamps brightly light up the mosquitoes against the dark back of the chamber for filming (emission of NIR is shown in yellow).