Scientists at the Nairobi-based International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) have discovered a new way that could be used to control malaria in Africa.
Scientist Mike Okal said that a naturally occurring chemical, cedrol, was found in mosquito breeding sites near Lake Victoria. This chemical could be used in traps to 'attract and kill' the female mosquito, preventing reproduction before she lays eggs.
"For the past six years, we have been studying how the major malaria-transmitting mosquito in Africa selects which pool to lay her eggs in, and asking how that choice could be manipulated so we can intercept and kill her before she lays hundreds of eggs," said Okal.
The researcher said while much research has been done into repellents and attractants of malaria-transmitting mosquitoes, this is the first chemical confirmed to attract female mosquitoes while they search for a place to lay their eggs.
"The research offers a new way to control mosquitoes and will also boost malaria-control efforts in tropical Africa," Okal noted.