Poison bait effective in decimating malaria mosquitoes

New Worlds: Research carried out in West Africa shows method of insect control developed at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

December 5, 2010 05:13
3 minute read.

Research carried out in Mali, West Africa has shown that a new, safe and uncomplicated method of insect control developed at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem can bring about a major decline in malaria-bearing mosquitoes around the world. The team, which published its study in a recent issue of Malaria Journal, showed how attractants of plant origin (fruit or flowers) with a toxic sugar bait can reduce the populations of malaria-transmitting mosquitoes.

The research was carried out at HU’s Kuvin Center for the Study of Tropical and Infectious Diseases at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The scientists involved are Prof. Yosef Schlein and Dr.Gunter Muller of the Kuvin Center and the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada (IMRIC), Prof. John Beier of the University of Miami, Florida, and Prof. Sekou Traore, Prof. Seydou Doumbia, Dr. Mahamadou Toure, Dr. Mohamed Traore and Dr. Sekou Bah, all of the University of Bamako, Mali.

Their work in the use of the HU-developed Attractive Toxic Sugar Bait Method (ATSB) controlled malariabearing mosquitoes in Mali’s semi-arid Bandiagara district.

Control and treatment sites were selected along a road that connects villages and had man-made ponds that were the primary larval habitats of Anopheles gambiae and Anopheles arabiensis mosquitoes. Guava and honey melons – two local fruits that attract both species – were used to prepare solutions of Attractive Sugar Bait (ASB) and ATSB, which contains boric acid as an oral insecticide.

Both included a color dye marker to determine which mosquitoes fed on the solutions.

ASB solution in the control site and ATSB solution in the treatment site were sprayed on patches of the vegetation. As a result, the number of female and male mosquitoes in the ATSB-treated site declined by about 90% and remained low during one month of monitoring.

The females in the diminished population were mostly too young to transmit malaria. In parallel, dye marking in the solutions sprayed in the control site showed that most of the mosquitoes were feeding on the sprayed solutions.

The researchers concluded that even a single application of ATSB can significantly decrease malaria-bearing mosquito populations. It is thus likely that ATSB methods can be used as a new, powerful tool for the control of malaria insect carriers; the approach is highly effective for mosquito control, technologically simple, inexpensive and environmentally safe.The researchers said their study can set the stage for bigger efforts in African countries, with ATSB in outdoor environments complementing conventional ways of fighting mosquitoes in homes.


Most Israelis would agree that individuals can interpret the same election message in different ways, according to their personal political views. Profs. Martin McKee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and David Stuckler of the University of Oxford argued in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) recently that it’s possible for two well-informed groups with the same evidence to reach completely different conclusions.

They highlight a recent US study in which three groups that described themselves as either Democrats, Republicans or Independents were randomly given four versions of an authoritative news story about diabetes.

The stories were exactly the same, apart from how they described the causes of the illness – one said nothing while the other three alluded to genetic factors, individual lifestyle choices and social determinants such as economic status. Interestingly, the Democrats and Independents were far more likely to agree with the social determinants explanation, but this had no effect on the Republicans.

Furthermore, the Democrats were significantly more likely than the Republicans to support action to fight obesity such as restrictions on junk food.

The authors also refer to a study on brain activity in Democrat and Republican research participants who were exposed to contradictory messages from both parties.

They say: “Whereas those registered as Republicans clearly identified the contradictions voiced by Democrat politicians, they saw minimal contradictions in the statements by Republicans, and vice versa.”

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