Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Pests

The NANOMOSKI process utilizes silica nanoparticles to render clothing mosquito-repellant

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

Scientists have developed a vortex gun that delivers electrically-charged rings of gas, an...

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

WiSPr is a tiny wireless acoustic sensor designed to detect termites by 'hearing' them 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

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

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

Scientists have sequenced the genome of the Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito

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

Mosquitoes won't lay their eggs wherever they detect a newly-identified chemical compound

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

No escape ... the Victor Multi-Kill Electronic Mouse Trap humanely zaps rodents dead in le...

There are two types of mice in the world. Firstly, there’s the Mickey, Speedy Gonzales, Stuart Little and Despereaux type of mouse, which are mostly harmless and a bit of fun. Then there’s the filthy rodent type that causes much damage and spreads disease. Pest control specialist Victor is hoping the saying “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door” rings true as it releases its "Multi-Kill Electronic Mouse Trap", a device that zaps mice dead in less than three seconds and reloads almost instantly to execute the next victim.  Read More

Scientists are hoping that by confusing insects' sense of smell, they won't be able to loc...

Good news for crop farmers this week with UK scientists discovering molecules they hope will confuse insects’ sense of smell and therefore their ability to detect plants – and each other. The researchers believe this could reduce the damage insects cause to crops and lead to better food security. Roughly one-quarter of the world’s crops are lost annually to pests and disease.  Read More

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