Soil chemical attracts mosquitoes to lay eggs and could make
25 March 2015
An international research team has discovered a soil chemical
that attracts mosquitoes to lay their eggs in specific places.
Experimenting with different soil and water mixtures, the
research team concluded that a constituent of earth found in
breeding sites near Kenya's Lake Victoria — a substance called
cedrol — is particularly attractive to the malarial mosquito,
precisely at the time when the female is ready to ovulate.
The battle against malaria is also a battle against its natural
host, the mosquito, which means disrupting the insect's lifecycle is
every bit as important as putting nets over beds. The finding could
lead to a mosquito trap that could help eliminate the pest.
"We have been able to show that it is no coincidence where
mosquitos lay their eggs," says Jenny Lindh, a researcher from KTH
Royal Institute of Technology. "They use both vision and their sense
"This is the first time we have been able to prove that Anopheles
react to a particular substance when they are looking for nesting,"
Lindh says. "This is a big step, to prove that it is possible to
lure the mosquito to a specific spot with an attractant."
That knowledge is being used to test traps in Kenya that can
compete with mosquitos' preferred spots, natural puddles big and
small. The mosquito traps employ fans to spread the fragrance and to
suck the mosquitos in, Lindh says.
But before declaring victory, the researchers must make sure
their traps work in environments with different kinds of conditions.
"We have identified a substance that mosquitos are attracted to but
it's highly probably that they also react to other substances," she
says. "The more we know the more effective we will be in limiting
the number of malaria cases."
The project is a collaboration between KTH, the International
Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Kenya and LSHTM, and
Durham University in England.
The results were published by the OviART research group, which is
comprised of KTH, Kenya's Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology,
the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and Durham
University in UK.