Mosquitoes 'vacuumed up' by traps that mimic breathing

This is what a bag of 400 mosquitoes looks like. I’m hoping they don’t fly out. I think they’re all dead. This bag of now very dead mosquitoes has come out of a mosquito trap that literally sucks mosquitos out of the air. I’m getting like all the legs on my hands. More than 300 of these traps have been deployed here in the city of Hyères in the south of France, where the mosquitoes were becoming such a problem they were driving tourists away.

Elizabeth Faria

“Hyères is surrounded by 1,800 hectares of marshlands where the female mosquitos lay their eggs. The hotels, they lost tourism. People had to leave because they could not stand the nuisances. So the mayor had to find a solution. “

Fully the thing I hate most about going on holiday is mosquitoes because for some reason they just find me really tasty. If you go on amazon, you can find loads of these little ultraviolet bug zappers that claim to attract them and kill them. But here’s the thing, mosquitoes are not attracted to UV. They’re attracted to carbon dioxide in your breath. Each trap releases a mix of carbon dioxide and a sort of sweaty fragrance that mimics what humans smell like. As mosquitoes approach the trap, they get vacuumed into a bag where they die. The local government here is funding the project and its gets access to an app that shows the location of all the traps and even how many mosquitoes each one has vacuumed up. There is a serious side to this as well because mosquitoes can spread deadly diseases so you can see why this might be a practical solution in regions where that’s a problem. I went to the nearby town of Sénas to meet the company’s co-founders Simon and Pierre.

Chris Fox - BBC : The machines release CO2 to attract mosquitoes and we hear a lot about how CO2 is contributing to climate change. Are these machines going to contribute to climate change?

Simon Lillamand – Co-founder of Qista : No because we are not creating CO2. We are reusing CO2 already created because in a lot of industries they are creating CO2. Our manufacturer is catching that CO2.

Pierre Ballagambi – Co-founder of Qista : A trap is like a human. So when we are using four traps in a school it is just four humans more in this place.

Chris Fox : The machines also releases a fragrance that kind of emulates the human scent/ How did you develop that? Did you have to go around collecting sweat samples?

Simon Lillamand : No. We made a lot of experimentation in our laboratory with all of the mosquitos to create the perfect perfume to attract the mosquitos. It really smells like acid perfume for the tropical mosquito and it smells like mushrooms for the marsh mosquitoes.

Chris Fox : OK, yeah. There’s lots of wildlife that eats mosquitoes. Once they’re removed from the environment, will that affect wildlife like birds or frogs?

Simon Lillamand : We have no impact on other insects or the animals like birds, swallows, because we are catching mosquitoes only in the city where humans are living and we are not catching the mosquitos in the natural area. So they are able to be eaten by a lot of animals.

 

What’s been nice about coming here is that as far as I know I haven’t yet been bitten by a mosquito. We did have a close call on the first night in a restaurant with a very large mosquito. That was in an area where they don’t have any of these traps and so that one hasn’t been vacuumed up yet I guess… But It has been nice to be able to come out and film a video without constantly keeping an eye on my arms and my legs to make sure that there’s no mosquitoes biting me.

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