Don't touch that cup! DHEC using special cups to trap mosquitoes

If you see this cup, don't disturb it! (Photo: South Carolina DHEC)

You may see some unusual looking cups popping up around your neighborhood soon, and South Carolina health officials say you need to just leave them be.

That's because the cups are being used to trap mosquitoes for a special study conducted by DHEC to track a specific type of mosquito that's capable of transmitting the Zika virus.

DHEC says Zika is spread through the bite of two different kinds of mosquitoes when they're infected, and while the virus hasn't shown up in South Carolina, they want to monitor the two species to ensure nobody gets infected.

The two breeds, identified scientifically as Aedes aegyotu and Aedes albopictus are what are called "container-breeding" mosquitoes, reproducing in different kinds of water-holding containers. For example, they can breed in buckets, pet water bowls, plastic containers, discarded tires, rain gutters, tarps, bird baths, lawn ornaments, outdoor toys, and anything else outdoors that collects and holds stagnant water near homes.

Unlike other mosquitoes, which tend to transmit West Nile, these two species do not in ditches, marshes, or other large bodies of water.

The traps DHEC have set are little black cups called "ovitraps". These cups are colored black with a white pattern on them indicating that they shouldn't be disturbed. The traps have water and a special paper for the mosquitoes to lay eggs on, mimicking the ideal breeding sites for the two species.

The eggs will be collected and grown into adults at the DHEC lab in Columbia. They will then be identified and the locations they were collected from will be mapped.

The data will be used to identify areas that are of higher risk for diseases carried by mosquitoes, such as the Zika virus, chikungunya, and dengue.

The cups should be easily identifiable with text that reads "DO NOT DISTURB - Mosquito Survey Underway". More information can be found on the website listed on the cups, which you can see here.

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