Published: 27th November 2018
These Class VI students from Kerala just found a solution to Kozhikode's mosquito menace
Two high schoolers from Kozhikode conducted a study with Zoologists and proved that indigenous fish can control the breeding of mosquitoes
Recently, Kozhikode-based ‘Kothuku Nirmarjana Samiti’ or the mosquito eradication committee, an organisation of environmentally concerned citizens, was revived in the wake of a rise in the spread of insect-borne communicable diseases such as dengue fever and chikungunya. However, two eleven-year-old students might have found a solution to this recurring problem. The pair, Class VI students of Government U P School in Thrikuttisseri, have come up with a solution for lowering the mosquito menace and, in turn, bringing down the growth of various deadly diseases.
Meet Neeraj N and Adithyan U S, who clinched the first prize in the Junior Category of the State Children's Science Congress conducted at the Centre for Water Resources and Management (CWRDM), for their project about the efficiency of indigenous fishes in controlling the breeding of mosquitoes. The two students have also been selected for the National Children's Science Congress to be held in Bhubaneswar from December 27 to 31. The students, with the help of Zoology professors at Government Arts College Madappally, Government Arts and Science College Kozhikode and Zoological Survey of India, completed the project within just two and a half months.
"Neeraj used to grow guppy fishes in various small tanks at home, and this has been a hobby for him for the past couple of years. However, last year during the heavy monsoon and floods, it was noticed that around 400 of his fishes died in a span for a few days due to low temperature of water. However, the native fish varieties he had and those from nearby freshwater bodies were unaffected by the weather. This made him curious to study more about it and led to this project," says Neeraj's mother Sheena.
The project submitted by Neeraj and his friend showed that freshwater bodies in the state were increasingly getting dried up, unlike in the earlier periods when the ponds, paddy fields, and streams in villages had plenty of water in all seasons.
Nowadays, our water bodies get filled only during rainy seasons. Though our hospital facilities are getting better and better, mosquito-borne diseases are also getting reported more and more every day. However, several indigenous fish in our villages are found to be very effective and play a crucial role in mosquito control. In this context, we did a comparative study on the role of Larvivorous fishes for mosquito control in Avitanallur village
Neeraj N, Class VI student (Pic: Neeraj)
Their project pointed out that proper rearing of the indigenous variety of fish can control mosquito breeding, also proving that the native species were better than Guppy fishes in catching mosquito larvae.
The duo started by constructing various types of fish tanks in their own houses. "We collected varieties of native fish from ponds. We bought Guppy fish from pet shops. We accurately measured the number of larvae we were feeding to each variety of fish to enable us to compare their larvivorous efficiency. We conducted several experiments with Guppy fish and native fishes like Blackline Rasbora, Striped Panchax (or White Spot) and Silver Barb. Finally, we experimentally confirmed that native fish consume more mosquito larvae than Guppy fishes do," explains Neeraj. "We should plan programmes effectively in order to protect our indigenous fish. We should have more programmes like Cage Culture Farming, to aim for protection, reproduction, and farming of these native freshwater fish and it should be made available in all villages," Neeraj concludes.