Researchers at The Ohio State University are working to develop a safer way to deal with mosquitoes.
Many people are concerned about the chemicals used while “fogging” for mosquitoes.
But with a recent uptick in the number of West Nile Virus cases carried by mosquitoes, researchers want to find a more effective and safe way to deal with the pests.
So far this year, 63 Ohioans have contracted the virus from mosquitoes, and two people have died from complications.
“In addition to blood, which everyone’s familiar with, both males and females need sugar in order to live normal lives,” said Woodbridge Foster, a medical entomologist with OSU.
Scientists have built a machine that dispenses odors from plants to test which scents attract the mosquitoes.
Foster said that researchers have found that mosquitoes love milkweed, and hundreds may swarm a single plant.
Foster’s team has created an artificial version, a sort of mosquito perfume.
“The idea is to bring in these as attractants, even when the mosquito isn’t interested in blood,” Foster said.
Right now, scientists are using the perfume to lure the mosquitoes for surveillance and to learn more about their life cycles. In the future, the bait stations with scents mosquitoes love could be used to trap and kill the pests. Each would contain a gentle insecticide, Foster said.
“If we can just put them around people’s houses, these killing stations that have the plant attractants in them, we’ll get males and females coming in there and dying,” Foster said. “We would actually stop transmission.”
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