Mosquito Deterrents: The Good, the Bad and the Potentially Effective

With Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses on the rise, researchers are looking for the next best way to keep the bugs from biting

(CDC/PHIL/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

There’s not much that's good about mosquitoes. The itch-inducing little suckers kill about 725,000 people a year worldwide through the diseases they transmit: malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, encephalitis, chikungunya, and West Nile virus, just to name a few. Now, with news that the mosquito-borne Zika virus may be causing an epidemic of severe birth defects across South America, Central America and the Caribbean, there’s been an increased focus on mosquito control. Here, we’re highlighting some of the most interesting anti-mosquito innovations of the past few years, some more effective than others. 

Insecticide Paint

Typical civic mosquito control involves spraying clouds of insecticides around buildings. But this spraying (or “fogging,” as it’s called in parts of Southeast Asia) must be repeated regularly. What if the insecticide could actually be embedded in house paint? That’s the idea behind a newly invented anti-mosquito paint from Malaysia. The product involves mixing paint with deltamethrin, a common insecticide, which disrupts mosquitoes’ nervous systems. Trials have been promising—the company claims the paint repels mosquitoes for up to two years—and the final formulation of the paint is set to hit the market soon. 

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