Hacktastic Mosquito Trap Made From Old Charger Case, Computer Fan, Cell Phone Battery, LEDs, & Bag

wild_turkey5300/CC BY 2.0
Mosquito.

A Bangladeshi man has invented a better mosquito trap, constructed mostly of used parts from personal electronics. Attracted to LED's at the trap opening, and pulled in by an old PC cooling fan, skeeters are trapped from dusk 'til dawn, ending up in a small bag that gets dumped every morning. Efficacy of this computer parts-based trap needs to be evalued not just on it's own, however.

Culture and individual behaviors are critical to efficacy.
A single technology for prevention of insect bites, what epidemiologists would refer to as an exposure reduction technique, is best understood by looking at the efficacy of all reduction technologies that might used at once, based on local beliefs, attitude, and culture.

Example: at a back yard picnic in the US, some will choose to wear the mosquito 'repellant' DEET, others will choose to say in the screen porch only, and some will do both.

Some will chose to do neither - this is my personal choice, as skeeters seldom bother me - and still others may refuse to even come out of the house and onto the screen porch because they are afraid of bugs and hate the feel of DEET on their skin.

You can't understand efficacy of an insect exposure reduction technology without taking behavior and cultural preferences like these into account.

Myths often confuse.
Contrary to the mythology promoted by Western nation's marketing lingo, DEET does not repel mosquitoes. Reapeat: DEET is not a repellant. DEET vapors bind to and deactivate infrared and CO2 receptors on the antennae of flying insects, so that flying insects near person(s) wearing DEET will have a harder time getting close to human prey. What DEET does do is randomize insect flight patterns, reducing the odds of being contacted and bitten.)

No single mosquito repellant, barrier, or trap is 100% effective.
Positioning a mosquito trap in the home or outside of it reduces the number of insects present, reducing the odds of being bitten. It's a pure numbers game. Mosquito coils and killing sprays used at fixed locations do the same thing. A bed net also reduces the odds of mosquitoes getting at the skin of a sleeping human. One or two buggers might sneak in through a hole or while you throw the net back to get in bed, but the 'net effect' is positive. Again, it's a matter of reducing the contact odds.

You have to look at combined efficacy of culturally appropriate methods before rushing to to judgement on cost effectiveness of any single technology. Let's assume for the sake of producing some insights, that efficacy in reducing biting bug access to humans, evening through dawn, could be based on the following made-up numbers*.


  1. Outdoor mosquito trapping: 50%; average effectiveness over entire period.

  2. Interior mosquito trapping: 75% effective inside the home, 24 hrs/day.

  3. Bed net: 95% effective while sleeping but 0% effective before and after sleep.

  4. Localized insecticide use, in home and around periphery: 80% over 3 hour period, max.


Assume baseline influx of mosquitoes per hour entering residential area, dusk til dawn, is 50. Yes, there is also an out-flux rate but that rate is not relevant to exposure in the residential area and home. (Again, common repellants do not repel the bugs away from a home area, they randomize flight patterns.)

Add 'em up.
To understand malaria exposure reduction potentials, for example, you need to realistically model exposure scenarios for activities like cooking dinner in the back, resting on veranda, sleeping on porch versus inside, gardening, and so on, applying the combined efficacy rate(s) in logical sequence as one goes through a day in the life of a family. After a number of iterations are tested, and costs and long-term reliability evaluated, the best combinations can be determined for each cultural context: e.g. rural Indian village versus downtown Sao Paulo. Only then can you make blanket judgements as to merits of this or any other exposure reduction technology.

But I have to admit, this one looks hacktastic as well as cost effective, being built with used electronics parts. Pair that up with a small solar charger and you might have a winner for deployment in- and outside the home.

For coverage of this inventions see: UNB Connect; and The New Nation.

*Note: it is not cost effective nor is it culturally possible to to eradicate mosquitoes over all populated areas of developing nations; so, blanket spraying is simply not an option, nor will it ever be. Wearing repellent sprays every day and all night and having screens on all points of entry to a home also are not culturally feasible. (If you work for a right wing think tank, learn to deal with cultural and cost realities instead of talking points.)

Tags: Insects

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