A team of researchers from Canada and Mexico have come up with an innovative way to kill mosquito eggs and thus fight against the Zika outbreak. The new method involves the most unlikely and cheap material: tire.
The study was conducted in Guatemala in an urban area and took place over the course of ten months. Its results were published yesterday in the F1000 Research journal, in its channel focused on Zika & Arbovirus Outbreaks.
The system named Ovillanta is basically a trap built from two sections of fifty centimeters of old car tire. These are modeled into a shape resembling a mouth, which features a release valve for fluids at the bottom.
Inside the lower cavity of Ovillanta is placed a non-toxic, milk-based solution that was created at the Laurentian University of Sudbury, meant to attract mosquitoes. The solution also includes mosquito pheromone.
Once it gets inside, the female mosquito will find a paper or wooden strip floating on an artificial pond, where it can lay her eggs. Subsequently, the strip has to be removed two times each week, after which it is analyzed, and the eggs are destroyed with either ethanol or fire. Afterward, the solution is drained, then filtered and finally recycled back in the tire. In this way, the pheromone becomes more powerful and attracts more mosquitoes.
The project led by Gerardo Ulibarri from the Laurentian University, along with Mireya Betanzos and Angel Betanzos from Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health. Conducted in collaboration with the Ministry of Health of Guatemala, the project was funded by the Canadian Government and given a grant from the Grand Challenged Canada organization.
The Ovillanta might be the next weapon in tackling the Zika outbreak since it is much more effective than the regular traps built from buckets. During the study, the researchers managed to collect and destroy more than 18,100 mosquito eggs each month by using no less than 84 ovillantas spread across seven neighborhoods in the Sayaxche town. The standard traps managed to collect only 2,700 eggs in the same time.
Furthermore, the ovillanta is much less expensive and harmless than other ways of fighting mosquitoes, such as destroying the larvae in natural ponds or targeting insects with various pesticides, which do much harm to other predators of the mosquito, such as dragonflies and bats.
Image Source: Shoofee