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— Science

Genetically-engineered mosquitoes lose nose for humans

It has long been believed that detecting carbon dioxide was one of the ways that mosquitoes target their human prey. But the fact that mosquitoes tend to favor certain people over others indicates that some other odor also plays a part in the attraction. Researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) have genetically engineered mosquitoes to alter their sense of smell, which could provide the understanding required to block the pesky pests' attraction to humans. Read More

Pump action Bug-A-Salt takes down insects in a hail of table salt

We recently took a look at the InaTrap insect trap that lures insects into its designer-inspired form to quietly and efficiently send them to an early grave. But if you’re looking for something slightly more badass that provides a greater sense of satisfaction when taking out those pesky bugs then it’s hard to go past the Bug-A-Salt. The brainchild of Santa Monica-based artist Lorenzo Maggiore, the Bug-A-Salt is a pump action gun that takes out pests in a blast of non-toxic table salt. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

Genetically-engineered mosquitoes can't transmit malaria

Last year, Prof. Anthony James announced that he and his colleagues had genetically altered Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in a fashion that could drastically reduce their populations. In a nutshell, the altered genes cause the female mosquitoes to be born without wings – this makes it rather difficult for them to go foraging for blood, and turns them into easy prey for almost any predator. The non-biting males are born with wings, and subsequently go off and mate with unmodified females, passing the modified genes along to their offspring. Now, James has done some more genetic engineering, to create mosquitoes that can’t spread malaria. Read More
— Good Thinking

Silica nanoparticles used to make mosquito-repellant clothing

For many of us, mosquitoes are an irritating pest that can ruin any number of outdoor activities. For many others, however, they are also spreaders of malaria – a disease which infected approximately 216 million people in 2010, according to an estimate by the World Health Organization. Repeatedly slathering on bug repellant is one way of dealing with the insects, although wearing clothing made from mosquito-repellant fabric sounds a lot more preferable. While existing mozzie-unfriendly garments have some limitations, Portuguese tech company Nanolabel has developed a new treatment process that it claims is far superior to traditional technology. Read More
— Science

Vortex gun blows rings of high-speed electrified gas – could have numerous applications

While something called a “vortex gun” might sound like a device from science fiction, the fact is that they have been available as novelties for years – if you’ve ever used a toy gun that shot out a smoke ring, then you’ve used a vortex gun. Lately, however, scientists from the Ohio-based Battelle R & D group have developed one that could have practical uses for people such as firefighters, exterminators and riot cops. Read More
— Around The Home

WiSPr acoustic termite detector works by "hearing" termites eat

Thanks to their habit of remaining concealed, the first indication people get that termites have invaded their home is after they’ve already wreaked their particular brand of wood-eating havoc. According to Associate Professor Adam Osseiran of Western Australia’s Edith Cowan University, the yearly damage bill in the U.S. for termite damage tops US$12 billion, while in Australia they cause an estimated $1 to $3 billion damage each year. In attempt to reduce such damage, Osseiran and his team have developed an acoustic sensor that is so sensitive it can detect termite infestation by “hearing” them chew through timber. Read More
— Science

Mosquito trap targets females laying their eggs

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. Read More
— Science

Genome of West Nile virus-carrying mosquito sequenced

A research project that began in 2004 and involved 38 institutions around the world has culminated in the sequencing of the Culex mosquito genome. Culex is one of the three mosquito genera, the other two – Anopheles and Aedes – having already been sequenced in 2002 and 2007, respectively. It is also the genus that obtains the West Nile virus from infected birds and transmits it to humans. Scientists hope that by better understanding the mosquito, they may be better able to control the spread of the virus. Read More
— Environment

Natural tool tells mosquito moms to lay their eggs someplace else

Mosquitoes could be having a tough time of it before too long. First, scientists announced an experimental new technology that utilizes gene-silencing nanoparticles to keep mosquito larvae from fully developing their protective exoskeletons. This leaves them much more vulnerable to insecticides, once they become adults. Now we have word of another study, in which researchers have identified a natural, environmentally-friendly chemical compound that causes female skitters to go elsewhere to lay their eggs. Read More