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Mosquito trap targets females laying their eggs


December 24, 2010

Dr. Dawn Wesson, with the traps that attract egg-carrying female mosquitoes (Image: Tulane University)

Dr. Dawn Wesson, with the traps that attract egg-carrying female mosquitoes (Image: Tulane University)

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After malaria, dengue fever is the most serious mosquito-borne disease in the world. In an effort to curb its spread, researchers from New Orleans’ Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine have developed mosquito traps that attract and kill egg-bearing females. Using a US$4.6 million grant from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the scientists plan to distribute 10,000 of the traps in Peru’s Iquitos region, an area known for dengue fever.

The traps are filled with a gallon of water, that is laced with both an attractant that mimics ideal egg-laying conditions, and a pesticide that kills the eggs once they’re laid. An insecticidal fabric lining kills the adult mosquitoes that enter the trap.

The approach is unique, as most traps are designed to attract mosquitoes looking for a source of blood. This trap draws in female mosquitoes that have already fed, and that therefore could already have picked up the dengue fever virus from a human host. “If we can lure that mosquito in and kill her before she has that next blood meal, then we can stop that transmission,” said Tulane’s Dr. Dawn Wesson. “If you do that enough times, you can actually stop the transmission of dengue or any other mosquito-borne pathogen. It’s a novel approach to not only mosquito control, but also disease control.”

A different approach has been developed at Israel’s University of Haifa. It uses a naturally-occurring chemical compound to discourage female mosquitoes from laying their eggs in the places they ordinarily would, in hopes that they won’t survive long enough to find an alternate location.

The Tulane research team plans to place their traps in and around homes in Iquitos, at the rate of two or three traps per house. Homeowners will refill the traps weekly, and replace the components bi-monthly. After one year, the team will look at the correlation between mosquito capture numbers and local cases of dengue fever, and compare that with numbers in a control area where no traps are in use.

If the traps are effective, they will next be tested in the Caribbean and Thailand.

“Right now there has really been nothing that can be safely used on a wide, multinational scale to reduce dengue transmission,” said Wesson. “If this trap works, we think it can change a lot of people’s lives.”

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

All well and good but DDT would fix the problem once and for all, we had this whole malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases issue down to zero by the end of the 60\'s and now we\'re back to millions dieing again because of the lie about DDT and it\'s supposed ill effects! Makes me think that that the powers that be really don\'t care about human suffering as much as they say they do? More about the power and control that they can have. Here is only one small example of why we should have DDT rather than mess around with things like this, http://www.ourcivilisation.com/aginatur/ddt.htm and after this you could read volumes more that would concur with this article.


Maybe they should combine the two techniques. Use both the Tulane attractant and the Israeli repellent within the same region to really get the mosquitos into the traps and nowhere else. And throw in some new bat colonies for good measure. Actually, I\'d prefer the last technique to the first two.


Good Innovation but expensive.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

Anumakonda Jagadeesh

These are all great efforts, but I\'m still waiting for that commercial, off-the-shelf mosquito-zapping laser! What the heck is taking so long with that?



I suggest you read up on the history of the Chesapeake Bay region, where the DDT nearly ravaged the waterfowl and economy.

Its not the wonderful chemical you think it is. I had the opportunity to meet Bill Gates Senior two years ago, and listen to how the work they have sponsored is helping to reduce mosquito populations, and they are to be applauded.

We need to learn to live within the environment, not destroy it for our own convenience.

David Richardson

mrhuckfin, You say \"All well and good but DDT would fix the problem once and for all, we had this whole malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases issue down to zero by the end of the 60\'s...\". If that is true, (DDT was so effective that it reduced mosquito-borne diseases down to zero) then how is it the mosquito\'s are back? What DDT did do was nearly kill off the mosquitos natural predators: song birds, bats and whole families of birds all the way up the food chain finally endangering birds of prey. Who knows how many humans and other animals have gotten cancer from that gnarly chemical. Mess with mother nature and you will pay a hefty price.

Facebook User

@ David Richardson, upon further research, you would find that it was not DDT that upset anything, but rather actual toxins, notably Arsenic, Mercury and Mercury derivatives and Lead - all naturally occurring elements. The whole chemical compound and structure of DDT is all from very simple ingredients that, when combined properly, are highly NON-toxic. DDT breaks down into organic compounds that are easily processed and excreted out. Please do your research before regurgitating the same old mis/dis-information. A quick perusal of sites dealing with toxins in Chesapeake Bay shows an assumption about DDT and not one showed hard facts regarding DDT. Almost all regurgitated the same old stuff you did. It's very tiresome.

@ Facebook User, Huck Fin didn't say that mosquitos were down to zero, but mosquito-borne diseases and they weren't down to a perfect zero. That's just impossible. If the mosquito populations around the world are left unmolested and their desolation unmitigated, then all of that which DDT eradicated is going to come back and come back hard.

Your second paragraph is pure fiction. 1000% bullsh*t. If DDT is so "gnarly" then how come there has never been but one single death positively attributed to DDT? One. BTW, that person worked at a plant that manufactured DDT and was involved in a spill where they were covered from head to toe and almost suffocated in the most concentrated form of the chemicals before they are refined and become real DDT. If that's what it takes to actually produce a death then I'm more worried about too much Iron or Vitamin A than DDT. The only real provable threat from DDT is that it has been shown to cause some thinning in the linings of eggs of Bald Eagles and that's in really concentrated amounts. Beyond that, bupkus. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Nothing.

We humans are as much a part of nature as anything else on the planet. We're not apart from nature. We cannot NOT be part of nature. Therefore, what we do is natural. The only difference is that we think we're smart enough to make a condemnation of actions we deem to be "unnatural" or "bad" as it regards "the environment".

I say that mosquitos killing millions of people by their unnatural and filthy bloodsucking is unnatural and should be outlawed. I say that their disgraceful habits are messing with mother nature and if we don't do something about it we're going to keep paying an even heftier price than we already have. Aren't you smart enough to see that "saving the environment" is as much against nature as not "saving the environment"? Both actions are "messing with mother nature". It's just that one of them makes people feel good about themselves - as if they're doing something "good".

That's okay. In 10 or 20 years from now, most of what is deemed "good" for the environment now will be reversed and we'll all be doing the opposite with as much zeal and pig-headedness as we're doing now because at the end of the day, we don't have a clue as to what's truly "good" for "the environment". After all, who's environment are we saving and saving from what? The mosquitos? Ours? The Bald Eagles? Rachel Carson's? They're all different environments with different requirements for sustaining them.

The arrogance of people who are "saving the environment" is staggering. Thanks for being so cock-sure of yourselves and so much smarter than the rest of us. While you're busy being so smart, millions die from Malaria, West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne pestilences. Good on ya'! Job well done.

Meanwhile, nobody bothers to actually revisit and verify that which Rachel Carson wrote. If they did, they would find it unverifiable. It's actually quite astounding at how unverifiable it is. But hey, just keep burying your heads in the sand and ignore truth and facts. They're just a tiresome bother anyway.

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