According to TechLink, which describes itself as the “authorized, nationally focused technology transfer partnership intermediary for the U.S. Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs,” on Jan. 5 the U.S. Navy received a 20-year U.S. patent for a method that is essentially designed to “feed the bad bugs metal so they stick to a magnet.” Jacques Bertrand, a research scientist at the Jacksonville, Fla.-based Navy Entomology Center of Excellence, devised the method, which has been several years in the making.
As demonstrated by a TechLink video of flies on a magnet, the pest ingests a bait infused with metal particles, then finds itself bound to a magnet. Research has been done thus far on iron, nickel, cobalt, gadolinium and magnetic alloys.
TechLink reports preliminary trials have seen success with German cockroaches (Blattella germanica), house flies (Musca domestica), red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta), and yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) adults and an unspecified species of mosquito larvae.
The U.S. patent application also notes research has been done on rodents, but more refinement may need to be done to make such a concept viable. Specifically, the application states: “It is contemplated herein that a variety of possible compositions comprising ferromagnetic particles can be formulated as bait and used to attract pests other than insects, e.g., vermin including but not limited to rodents, in accordance with the methods and devices of the invention … Depending on the size of the rodent or other pest to be entrapped, routine experimentation may be used to discern particularly preferred bait, weight percentage of ferromagnetic particles, and sufficient magnetic pull force.”
According to TechLink, “Bertrand’s work was for the Deployed War-Fighter Protection Program, which aimed to improve soldier health through pest control. But like other inventions he’s patented, private businesses can license the intellectual property and leverage the Navy R&D into commercial products.”