UF scientists develop backyard mosquito trap
GAINESVILLE (FOX 13) - Over the past four years, University Of Florida entomology graduate student Casey Parker has killed millions of mosquitos.
"I love killing mosquitos!" she laughed as she told FOX 13 News about her research.
Parker is part of a team of researchers who developed a promising new mosquito-killing trap. It's a black and red plastic object about the size of a milk carton.
Why black and red?
"Mosquitos find those colors attractive," explained Dr. Roberto Pereira, a UF research scientist who's spent six years developing the trap.
When placed in a shady place, it attracts female mosquitoes to lay their eggs inside. The device then kills both adult mosquitoes and larvae.
"The important thing here is, there are two pesticides in this formulation," explained Dr. Pereira.
The team invented a special process to coat the inside of the trap with a polymer containing two common insecticides.
The special polymer also allows the trap to last an entire mosquito season in a backyard. Each trap covers around 3,000 square feet. Its developers said it could sell for between $5 and $10 and will allow homeowners to control mosquitoes on their own property, including mosquitoes that could carry the Zika virus.
The University of Florida patented the trap and sold licensing rights to a private company.
"Our original plan was to have this produced and available next year," said Dr. Phil Koehler, who helped develop the trap. "But then with the arrival of Zika, we saw the emergency come about."
UF scientists asked the EPA and Florida Department of Agriculture for emergency approval, but so far it hasn't been granted.
Researchers say the trap is the simplest, safest, and cheapest way to kill backyard mosquitoes.
Dr. Koehler said they're now working with international organizations that could field-test the trap in Honduras.
Ironically, the new mosquito trap, developed in Florida, could be introduced first to consumers outside the U.S.
UF researchers are still hopeful their trap could become an important weapon for Floridians.