Mosquito-killing sweaty billboard project hits Brazil


April 21, 2016

Posterscope and Brazilian ad agency NBS created a billboard project that aims to help fight the Zika virus by carrying the aroma of human sweat, which attracts and kills Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

A technical blueprint on how The Mosquito Killer Billboard is available under a Creative Commons license to encourage people to replicate the idea in other cities.

The Zika virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito, which also transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.

Recently in Brazil, local health authorities have observed an increase in Guillain-Barré syndrome which coincided with Zika virus infections in the general public, according to the World Health Organization, as well as an increase in babies born with microcephaly in northeast Brazil.

The project has received criticism from those who worry that it attracts the insects to public areas.

“I think anything that can be done to reduce the prevalence of the mosquito is a good thing,” Dr. Chris Jackson, a pest control expert at the University of Southampton, told BBC. “I do have a few concerns. Maybe if it was not in a high-density place, where people are sitting perhaps with exposed legs … otherwise, you’re pulling in hungry mosquitoes and providing them with exposed human flesh.”

How it works

First, a device spreads an air solution containing lactic acid that smells like sweat and carbon dioxide, replicating a human’s breath, which the agency says attracts mosquitoes from up to 2.5 miles away. Fluorescent lights also attract the mosquitoes, which fly at an average 4 feet above the ground. A catch mechanism at the bottom of the billboard draws the mosquito in, and once it’s stuck, the mosquito dies dehydrated.

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