For years, scientists have been searching for a way to stop malaria-carrying mosquitoes in their tracks. While bed nets remain the most effective tool for protecting families from being bitten by the nocturnal mosquitoes, new technology is looking to cut the risk by trapping and killing the mosquitoes before they hit the net.
A solution may be simpler than it seems. Scientists in Tanzania found the stinky smell of socks is the perfect bait for mosquitoes, and are using the odor to draw the bugs into a poisoned trap. According to Dr. Fredros Okumu, head of the research project, the chemical-imitated odor attracted four times as many mosquitoes than a sockless human in trial experiments, and it killed up to 95 percent of the insects.
This is the first project focused on controlling mosquitoes outside of homes, and the Nothing But Nets’ partner, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has signed up to see the project through with a $775,000 grant. The technology is still in its trial phase, but Dr. Okumu hopes to mass produce them to cost between $4 and $27 each.
“It’s bold, it’s innovative, and it has the potential for big impact… who would have thought that a lifesaving technology was lurking in your laundry basket?” Dr. Peter A. Singer, head of Grand Challenges Canada, which funds the project, told the Washington Post.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that families no longer need to protect themselves from malaria-carrying mosquitoes, but it’s a step in the right direction! We love the creativity, and anyone who has a passion for saving lives by helping to prevent malaria.