A box that uses human scent to trap and kill mosquitoes at night promises malaria protection for people working and relaxing outdoors.
The Mosquito Landing Box emits a smell that attracts Anopheles mosquitoes, which can transmit malaria. Once inside the box, the insects are infected with deadly fungi or covered in insecticide, or electrocuted if the box is hooked up to solar panels and a battery.
Researchers at the Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania developed the device. It kills about 60% of nearby mosquitoes, according to an article published in the Malaria Journal.
This is particularly important in sub-Saharan Africa, where many people spend time outside at night to cook, talk or catch news on communal TVs and radios.
The boxes work by releasing human scent, along with a small dose of carbon dioxide that simulates human breath. This mixture is spread by solar-powered fans.
Each synthetic human-scented bait can last for a month and, according to Arnold Mmbando, a researcher at the Ifakara Health Institute and the lead author of the paper, the smell is not unpleasant for humans nearby.
The boxes can attract mosquitoes over 100 square metres with the prototypes costing between US$100 and US$150.
Mmbando says the solar panels can also provide electricity for villages during the day when Anopheles mosquitoes are not out feeding.
Steven Harvey, a researcher at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the United States, says the battle to defeat malaria needs extra measures beside bed nets and indoor insecticide sprays, which fail to deal with the problem of biting when people work or sit outside at night.