Building Low-Cost Mosquito Traps in Colombia

The first tire is cut with an angle grinder under the supervision of local law enforcement.

Over the last few months, Eagle Medical Services has been working with Terry Green Jr. to produce and deploy low-cost mosquito traps in San Juan Nepomuceno in Bolivar, Colombia. Mr. Green is a Clemson MBAe graduate and twice returned Peace Corps volunteer, currently living in Colombia. Gerard Ulibarri of Laurentian University in Canada was the first to describe the ovillanta mosquito trap in a publication earlier this year. Ovillanta mosquito traps use a liquid attractant to lure in female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, a primary vector for diseases like Zika, Cikungunya and Dengue fever. The mosquito lays her eggs in the trap, which is emptied every 3 days to collect and destroy the eggs before they hatch. The goal is to reduce mosquito-borne diseases like Zika in Colombia by reducing the number of mosquitoes available to transmit viruses.

The mosquito traps are a simple design so they can be made from materials that are cheaply or freely available even in remote areas. A cut-up tire forms the main body of the trap. Mr. Green was able to procure samples of discarded tires for both personal cars and the more common 18-wheelers that pass on the nearby interstate. Unfortunately both of these tires proved difficult to find in large quantities and even more difficult to cut apart. In a stroke of inspiration, Terry reached out to a local tire repair shop and found that they had plenty of motorcycle tires to spare. These lighter tires proved both easier to transport and cut. They are much more available due to the popularity of motorcycles in the area.

The Mark 2 mosquito traps will have a shorter drain spout and a second tire segment to cover the top.
The Mark 2 mosquito trap will have a shorter drain spout and a second tire segment to cover the top.

Mr. Green made the first three mosquito traps on Friday with assistance from the tire shop and local law enforcement. These prototypes are missing some important features of the original design – most notably a second tire segment that would form a roof over the attractant solution. This is an important feature for outdoor traps, as the roof provides protection from rain and debris like falling leaves. Winter in Colombia brings a lot of rain, which might cause traps deployed outside to overflow. Mosquito eggs in the trap would fall to the ground where they can lie dormant for months before the next rainfall gives them the right environment to hatch. EMS and Mr. Green are working to find a solution to this issue for the next batch of traps.

Baiting the Mosquito Traps

The goal is to develop a trap design that works with the resources available in this community. However, EMS is also experimenting to make an attractant solution from local plants. A literature review of plants used to make fermented mosquito attractants produced a long list of candidates, but unfortunately none were available in northern Colombia. On 2016.10.14 Mr. Green collected leaves from four different trees and grass clippings from a local park. The plant matter was dried and placed in two separate fermentors in late October. Two of the prototype mosquito traps will be set up next to each other with different attractants to see which draws more mosquitoes. This way we can test different leaves to identify a plant that is abundant in northern Colombia with good attractant properties.

The mosquitp attractant solutions are fermented in simple 10-liter buckets with detachable lids.
Simple 10-liter buckets with detachable lids serve to ferment the attractant solutions.
Flooding in San Juan Nepomuceno in October 2016.
Flooding in San Juan Nepomuceno in October 2016.

The prototype mosquito traps will be set up inside buildings later this week to begin collecting eggs for destruction. New traps will be made through iterative development until we land on a design that works well for this community. At that stage we hope to have enough data to show how many mosquito eggs have been collected per trap. Each egg destroyed is one less mosquito and one less potential disease vector. We can use this information to encourage widespread deployment in the community. A relationship with a local hospital may give us access to data on local Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue fever cases. Over time we hope to see that there is a statistically significant reduction in mosquito-borne illnesses because of EMS’ efforts. To date this project has only cost about USD 75.00 thanks to Mr. Green’s efforts. We hope that this project will soon help reduce the burden of mosquito-borne diseases in this disadvantaged region.

Even Skjervold
Program Manager for Biomedical Engineering
Eagle Medical Services, LLC

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Complete the form to download file