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New repellant tricks mosquito's sense of smell

December 10, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
A new research facility opened Friday to control mosquitoes and prevent disease from spreading.An entomologist at UC Riverside may have discovered a way of permanently repelling mosquitoes, a perennial threat in tropical countries where they are a vector for many diseases.

"What we've been able to do is find a way to use odor to block the mosquitoes nose and the ability for the mosquito to detect carbon dioxide in our breaths and therefore confuse them," said Dr. Anand Ray, an assistant professor of entomology at UC Riverside.

His research is the basis for a new environmentally friendly mosquito repellant being developed by OlFactor Laboratories in San Bernardino.

"If we can disrupt their navigation patterns with these chemicals, we'll cut down the number of people that actually get bit by mosquitoes," said Steve Abbott, OlFactor Laboratories.

While there are several chemicals on the market to repel the insect, mosquitoes have grown resistant to them over time. The lab will test out its experimental equipment to see how its own blend of natural odors affect the blood-sucking insect.

They'll test the new blend inside a net, using carbon dioxide mimicking human breath to attract the mosquitoes.

"In this manner we want to use these odors as an area protectant that would protect a number of individuals in an area," said Ray.

Last year mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus resulted in 720 cases of the disease and 32 deaths in the U.S. Around the world the insect is responsible for malaria, dengue fever and other tropical illnesses.

OlFactor Laboratories plans to launch its mosquito control technology by 2012.