War declared on flying pests

by Andy Bryenton

Deadlier than all the spiders, sharks and tigers put together and more annoying than the most repetitive pop music Christmas carol remake. Mosquitoes have been on humanity’s ‘least wanted list’ since we first gave up on caves as real estate. Now there are new ways to deal with the flying bloodsuckers — but not all are created equal.

The bad news seems to be that sound-based apps for your mobile, which claim to drive away insects are hopeless. Both the BBC and research by computer magazine Macworld suggests that the concept seems scientific but that the results are negligible. That’s not to say that technology hasn’t been working on better ways to stop the little pests.

Insect Shield is a clothing company who design and create wearable mosquito repellant couture. Trousers and shirts, which are imbued with natural permethrin by this US company have been proven by that country’s very particular FDA and EPA agencies to drive away fleas, ticks, mossies and midges — among others. They claim that the charge of anti-insect goodness lasts 70 washes, and if you live in the States, you can even post them your favourite clothes to be treated. Coming soon to New Zealand, we hope.

Another repellent, which goes above and beyond the usual is called the ThermaCELL. Available via Amazon, it clips to your belt or is fitted into a lantern for camping. Once heated up, it creates a ‘bubble’ of no-fly-space for mossies, thanks to a synthetic chrysanthemum-derived repellent chemical that’s harmless to us, but hated by flying pests. For those who want to see them fry, the old-fashioned blue-light ‘zapper’ has also been given a tune-up with modern LED technology, making it more cost-effective to run. The ultimate mosquito trap might just be the Mosquito Magnet.

This gas-powered trap lures the little vampires in with carbon dioxide bait that mimics human exhalation. It turns out, that’s how they track us. When they come too close, they are sucked in by a vacuum to die in an inescapable chamber.

While these solutions are large (and have very United States-centric names like the Commander, the Patriot and the Independence), they are proven to be able to clear out a whole back yard and slash mozzie populations long term. The only better solution? Literally, breed all-male swarms of mossies then irradiate them with x-rays — so they are sterile. You might think this is a great way to create a 1970s monster movie, but it’s real; just not for the general public, unlike the rest on this list.