Zika virus, meet your match.
A pair of Florida Polytechnic University students are researching a method for eliminating mosquitoes without the use of chemicals or hurting other insects.
Their weapon is an audible frequency that disturbs a fine-tuned sensory organ called scolopidia. Scolopidia are ordinarily used to detect predators like an incoming dragonfly, but a small scale test has shown a certain oscillating frequency can mimic this danger and incapacitate mosquitoes. More specifically, the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which carries the Zika virus.
The project came to Florida Poly through Skim Shield, of Largo, Fla. Dr. Melba Horton, a Florida Poly biology professor, passed it on to students Jonathan Detty and Chris Krenek to tackle. A small-scale test produced promising results, so the pair are working this summer with more than 1,000 mosquitos contained in a six-foot cube. The experiments will test different frequencies, distances and sound sources.
“The idea behind the sound is that it will send them to the ground and effectively back into the food chain without negatively impacting the environment,” Detty says.
Krenek says he’s excited to do a project with real-world impact.
“I had a vision of doing projects like this when I picked Florida Poly, working with real companies and being able to apply it back to our majors. This is teaching us how to work on a project, keep to a budget and meet deadlines,” Krenek says.