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Mosquito control

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Default.png    See also the Mosquito control category.
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Note: The Wikipedia article on mosquito control has extensive information and sources on different approaches to mosquito control; this page does not try to duplicate that information, but rather contains some key points relevant to sustainable, community-level and cost-effective methods, plus additional information on projects and research.

Mosquitoes carry disease, including malaria, dengue fever, Zika fever and many others (see Mosquito-borne diseases). Thus, measures to prevent the growth of mosquitoes is an important aspect of public health.

Mosquito control measures[edit]

Source reduction[edit]

This is a common approach (including the program at Recycling and dengue fever in Sukunan, Indonesia): this can be as simple as emptying water from containers around the home, and removing garbage that might collect water - the Aedes mosquito (which carries Dengue fever) is reputedly able to breed in just a few drops of rainwater in a discarded plastic water. However, source control may have a limited effect, as the mosquito can just lay in dry place (where the eggs wait for rain) or locate another water body (near or far off) and accomplish their mission.[verification needed] (See GEM mosquito control, the inventor of which disputes the effectiveness of source control. This issue is debated on the Appropedia Forums: Efficacy of source reduction in mosquito control.)

In some cases, filling in or repairing water bodies is needed - e.g. small pools, stagnant drains. Apart from that, the cost should be quite low. Once a culture of correct garbage disposal is established, the main costs should be those for the proper disposal of rubbish.

Besides removing water from containers near houses and emprtying small pools, it is also effective on a large scale, ie by removing surface water in waterlogged areas, or by simply swapping the freshwater with seawater (mosquito eggs can't be layed in saline water).

GEM mosquito control[edit]

A very cheap means of capture is GEM mosquito control, where small water containers are placed around houses for mosquitoes to lay their eggs in, and carefully emptied at regular intervals, so that the larvae cannot grow to adulthood. Consisting only of a few pots (earthenware, plastic or whatever is available), the financial cost is probably lower than almost any other method.

(A Kiswahili version of the article is at Teknolojia ya GEM ya Kukabiliana na Mbu. It is spoken language of more than a dozen and official language of four African countries!)

Water bottle traps[edit]

Or small water bottles painted black with a little water in. Placed around the house but where the sun can shine on the trap for a few hours each day. The mosquitos enter during dawn to hide, you then close the top off. Later the hot sun shines down and kills all that is inside. Late afternoon you take the tops off to start the cycle again.

Capture[edit]

Relatively sophisticated designs (and presumably somewhat expensive and difficult to maintain) have depended on emitting CO2 to attract mosquitoes.[verification needed]

Biocontrol[edit]

Includes mosquito-eating fish such as mosquitofishW, carnivorous plants (such as utricularium) and and various other predators, including a tiny freshwater crustacean used in Vietnam in combating dengue fever mosquitoes.[verification needed] Another approach is to just outcompete the anopheles mosquitoes using other species of mosquitoes (that can not carry the disease). See Pond Networks.

Screening[edit]

  • Protecting living space (houses and other buildings) through the use of fly screens on doors and windows. This has the advantage of allowing windows and doors to be left open to cool night breezes, making things more pleasant, and reducing the attraction of expensive and unsustainable air conditioning.
  • Protecting sleeping space with mosquito nets over beds. The mosquito nets may be treated with pesticide. These may be hot to sleep under, but where mosquito bites are a nuisance, they may actually be considered more comfortable than sleeping without one.

Making the body poisonous to mosquitoes[edit]

A pill is under development that makes a person's blood poisonous to mosquitoes.[1][2] Especially in urbanised areas, the pill would be effective as a control measure.

Applications of organic or chemical pesticides[edit]

Pesticide has obvious negative effects; however these are usually minor compared to high death rates when a disease is rampant. Care must obviously be taken; other measures should be taken very seriously to reduce or eliminate the need for toxic chemicals, even if pesticide is necessary in the short term. Pesticide is used for:

  • Larvae - a surface film of (fossil) oil such as kerosene can also be used, though the environmental impact is a problem if done in the natural environment. Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis can also be used to kill of mosquito larvae. This method has almost no environmental impact whatsoever. [3]
  • Adult mosquitoes - pesticides can be sprayed on mosquito nets to kill adult mosquitoes. 2 fungi are currently being used for this, ie the Metarhizium anisopliae fungus, and the Beauveria bassiana fungus[4]

Pesticides that have a negative effect on humans is best applied to interior walls. Less toxin is also spread into the environment. DDT is still sometimes used in this way, as this method of application minimizes the ecological damage, while providing an effective way of complementing other methods and other pesticides.[verification needed][5]

Personal protection[edit]

The following forms of personal protection should be applied to reduce the potential for mosquito bites:

  • light-colored clothing is less attractive to mosquitoes.
  • covering up, e.g. by wearing long sleeves, reduces mosquitos bites.
  • use a repellent - DEETW is widely recommended. Non-chemical repellents may help but must be applied more often and may also be irritating.
  • headnets are effective - usually used when entering areas of severe mosquito infestation.

Suggested projects[edit]

Some questions that arise are:

  • Kerosene is sometimes used to kill mosquito larvae, e.g. (no, NOT) after collection with the GEM mosquito control method. Is vegetable oil as effective? (This would be better from an environmental point of view.) Or does it not spread effectively?[Suggested project]
  • How effective is source control?[Suggested project]
  • The place of DDT in mosquito control - see footnote below.
  • Catnip oil has been found to be a very effective mosquito repellent [6] but it has not been tested for skin irritation. Will planting catnip around the house help reduce mosquitoes?[Suggested project]

These projects might best be approached initially with a literature review.

Footnotes and references[edit]

Dubious claim by some that taking vitamin B can help in reducing mosquito bites[7] People in the comments offer their own experience, some finding it makes no difference, some claiming a significant improvement. (Could it be that it works for some and not for others, or is it just a placebo?)

  1. Pill making body poisonous to mosquitoes, TEDxMaastricht, April 2012.
  2. Pill made by Bart Knols
  3. Use of bacillus thuringiensis israelensis
  4. Fungi for fighting mosquitoes
  5. While some environmental skeptics (typically right-wing commentators) present DDTW as a simple solution to malaria with little downside, a more moderate form of the pro-DDT argument is that when applied to the walls of houses, DDT lasts for months, and once the mosquitos develop resistance, the newer insecticides remain effective (whereas the reverse may not be true[verification needed]). DDT is also cheaper. See Tim Lambert's anti-DDT blog post with pro-DDT arguments in the comments by tc,with links. A literature review would be useful to weigh the evidence.[Suggested project] Also, is DDT sprayed onto the walls, or is it applied in a liquid to minimize the amount entering the environment?[Suggested project]
  6. Catnip sends mozzies flying
  7. A commenter adds a reference, saying that nothing taken internally has been shown to have any effect: "Comparative Efficacy of Insect Repellents against Mosquito Bites" Mark S. Fradin, M.D., and John F. Day, Ph.D. New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 347 (1):13-18 July 4, 2002. This cites 3 studies:
    1. Khan AA, Maibach HI, Strauss WG, Fenley WR. Vitamin B1 is not a systemic mosquito repellent in man. Trans St Johns Hosp Dermatol Soc 1969;55:99-102. [Medline]
    2. Strauss WG, Maibach HI, Khan AA. Drugs and disease as mosquito repellents in man. Am J Trop Med Hyg 1968;17:461-464. [Free Full Text]
    3. Food and Drug Administration. Drug products containing active ingredients offered over-the-counter (OTC) for oral use as insect repellents. Fed Regist 1983;48:26987-26987.

External links[edit]

External links[edit]