With lightning and thunder against mosquitoes

Whether with electronics or chemicals – the fight against mosquitoes and their bites is a business that more and more companies are pushing into. The technical innovations with which they hunt down the pests.

Their buzzing robs you of sleep – and once you have tracked down your victim, for example based on the exhaled air or the body odor, there is hardly any escape. They saw through the skin to the nearest vein with their piercing bristles, and with their proboscis they pump saliva into the wound so that the victim’s blood does not clot. Then they suck it off. And a little later the sting begins to itch.

Mosquitoes are a nuisance, mosquitoes are disease carriers – and they are business for large corporations and small start-ups.

One start-up that makes money with the buzzing pests is Heat_it. The company based near Mannheim has developed a tiny device that can be used to relieve the itching and swelling after a mosquito bite. Connected to the smartphone and its battery, you simply hold the device on the itchy area. The heat given off ensures that fewer histamines are released, which cause itching. At the same time, the brief pain leads to the fact that the brain hardly notices the itching. And the heat is supposed to break down the protein poison from the mosquito’s saliva.

Similar devices, in which the user has to charge the battery regularly and which are therefore much more bulky, have been on the market for a while; they are available at the common drugstore chains.

In Germany , mosquitoes can be a nuisance and even cause business problems, as restaurateurs on the Bavarian Ammersee have to experience this year. There, residents and tourists had to flee the open air after 3 p.m. because the mosquitoes literally fell on them. But at least they rarely transmit serious diseases in this country. Unlike in the malaria areas of the world.

The World Health Organization WHO has recommended two years ago for the first time in decades a new anti-mosquito products, such as for use in Central Africa and Southeast Asia. A mosquito net from the Ludwigshafen-based BASF group soaked in the active ingredient chlorfenapyr .

Old ideas, improved application

The company developed this together with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Innovative Vector Control Consortium, an organization to fight malaria. The active ingredient is not new; it has been used as an insecticide in agriculture for years. But now the scientists have changed it so that it can also be used on the networks.

The active ingredient disrupts the insects’ ability to generate energy. As a result, it dies when it sits on the net. It is also considered less likely that the insects will become resistant to the agent. Based on the active ingredient, BASF has now also developed a spray that can be applied to walls and ceilings.

A remedy that the Cologne-based chemical company Lanxess has in its range is a little less martial against mosquitoes . Lanxess is an exclusive worldwide manufacturer of the active ingredient Icaridin, which is found in most mosquito sprays today, for example in Autan, which is sold by the US manufacturer SC Johnson.

Icaridin makes people practically impossible to smell by mosquitoes by confusing their olfactory receptors. This makes it much more difficult for the animal to find its victim, and the risk of a mosquito bite is reduced. However, mosquitoes also orientate themselves with their eyes. The funds are of little help here.

Nevertheless, analysts at Zion Market Research expect the global market for drugs to keep mosquitos away from them to grow to around five billion dollars by 2022. Outbreaks like the Zika virus in South America would drive development, they expect.

And electronics should also chase the insects away, according to the plan of the Zurich start-up Nopixglobal. His Nopixgo bracelet emits electromagnetic impulses that are harmless to humans and simulate a storm with lightning and thunder. Mosquitoes don’t like that at all. Even in bodies of water, the bracelet, which costs around 90 euros, chases away stinging animals, reports a hobby angler on YouTube who has tested it extensively.