Modern technology has brought us many benefits, including mosquito traps that cost hundreds of dollars, but sometimes we overlook simple solutions to difficult challenges such as mosquito control. When it comes to controlling pests, research tends to focus on chemicals or concepts that can be patented. Unless someone can make a profit from an idea, the public may never become aware of it.
Such could be the case with the simple, homemade mosquito trap developed with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Tests in Israel and Africa have found that simple traps baited with fermented fruit juice and a toxin can be highly effective in reducing mosquito levels. Mosquitoes are attracted to the scent from the fruit juice because they feed on nectar and other sugar sources.
The researchers point out that the DIY mosquito trap they tested “may be suitable for the control of subterranean mosquito populations ... suitable areas may include underground storm drains systems ... with stable microclimatic conditions...”
The Israeli researchers tested their traps in cisterns. Most of us don’t have cisterns, but around our homes mosquitoes tend to seek similar locations as resting sites. Buckets, trash cans, old tires and other sheltered sites containing water often harbor mosquitoes. Why not create such sites and then place the baited traps in them? (To be sure mosquitoes can’t breed in the sites, you can add some Bt “mosquito dunks” to the water, to kill any larvae that might hatch.)
We suggest using a covered trash can or wastebasket, with some holes for the mosquitoes to enter and exit and some water in the bottom of the can, and then placing the traps inside these “mosquito shelters.” In the studies in Israel traps placed in cisterns reduced mosquito numbers by 20 times!
Homemade Mosquito Trap
Here are excerpts from the researchers’ description of their bait and traps, from their paper, “Efficacy of toxic sugar baits against adult cistern-dwelling Anopheles claviger”:
“The bait solution used to treat the experimental site consisted of 85 percent juice of overripe to rotting nectarines, 5 percent volume-to-volume wine, 15 percent weight-to-volume brown sugar, and 0.04 percent weight-to-volume oral Spinosad insecticide. (Spinosad is a biological insecticide with a safety profile similar to other benign biologicals.) The solution was ripened for 48 h in covered buckets, outdoors in the sun where daily temperatures reached 30 degrees Celsius.
“Clean, disposable 1.5-liter plastic soft drink bottles with a hole of 5 cm diameter at approximately two-thirds of their height were prepared. Cotton cloth wick was inserted through the holes and arranged so that both the internal and external ends reached down to the level of the bottom.
“The bottles were then introduced, bottom first, into large, light colored, cotton flannel socks that had been thoroughly washed with water and dried. The socks were then wetted by dipping into the bait solution and approximately 0.5 liters of the solution was poured into each bottle.
“Thus, the fluid evaporating from the external layer was replaced and the socks were maintained wet by passage of the internal fluid through the wick.”
If you try this homemade mosquito trap around your home, please report back on how it works by posting a comment on this page.
Read more: Learn about how to keep those pesky mosquitoes away without harming the environment in Grow Safe, Natural Mosquito Repellents.
Cheryl Long is the editor in chief of MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine, and a leading advocate for more sustainable lifestyles. She leads a team of editors which produces high quality content that has resulted in MOTHER EARTH NEWS being rated as one North America’s favorite magazines. Long lives on an 8-acre homestead near Topeka, Kan., powered in part by solar panels, where she manages a large organic garden and a small flock of heritage chickens. Prior to taking the helm at MOTHER EARTH NEWS, she was an editor at Organic Gardening magazine for 10 years. Connect with her on Google+.