Mosquito Traps Made From Old Tires Are 7 Times More Effective Than Standard Traps

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CC BY 2.0. Daniel Pinelo

A new study found this cheap, easy system significantly reduced virus-carrying Aedes mosquitoes in Guatemala.

Called an ovillanta, a simple mosquito trap fashioned from old tires spells doom for mosquito eggs. So effective is the cheap eco-friendly system that during a 10-month study in Guatemala, the team collected and destroyed over 18,100 Aedes mosquito eggs per month, almost seven times the eggs collected compared to standard traps. Anecdotally, the researchers note that there were no new reports of dengue during the time in the area, normally during that timeframe the community would have reported up to three dozen cases.

Virus Carrying Mosquitos

The Aedes genus of mosquitoes is primarily responsible for transmitting a host of vexing viruses, including Zika, dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever. Aedes is notoriously tough to control, according to the World Health Organization. Pesticide-resistance, lack of resources, and a boost in mosquito-friendly environments have hindered traditional methods of controlling the pest's quick spread.

Inexpensive and Good for the Environment

Created in collaboration by researchers from Canada and Mexico, the ovillanta is made of two 20-inch sections of old car tire secured together in the form of a mouth, with a fluid release valve at the bottom. A milky mosquito-luring non-toxic solution is poured in the bottom – the solution includes a mosquito pheromone that tells female mosquitoes that it’s a safe place to lay eggs. The mosquitoes enter, lay eggs on a paper or wooden strip that is floating in the “pond” ... twice a week the little egg raft is removed, the eggs destroyed, and the solution drained and filtered before being reused in the trap again."We decided to use recycled tires – partly because tires already represent up to 29 percent of the breeding sites chosen by the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, partly because tires are a universally affordable instrument in low-resource settings, and partly because giving old tires a new use creates an opportunity to clean up the local environment," says lead researcher Gerardo Ulibarri of Laurentian University

Ulibarri says that using ovillantas is one-third as expensive as killing larvae in natural ponds and only 20 percent the cost of targeting adult insects with pesticides, which also hurt bats, dragonflies and mosquitoes' other natural predators.

As far as I can tell, there is nothing not to love about this. The researches have made a how-to video to show people how to create their own ovillantas. It is in Spanish with English subtitles. References to a "kit" are presumably referring to kits handed out in Guatemala during the research, but the tutorial is still good inspiration for anyone interested in fashioning their own ovillanta. It can be viewed here.