The silent sucking of bloodthirsty mosquitos and the inevitable itching that follows can ruin even the most Whitman-esque of summer evenings. But in other parts of the world mosquitos are a far more dangerous threat, spreading pestilent diseases like malaria that tally tens of thousands of deaths annually.
There are a few things you can do to keep mosquitos from feasting on you. You can lather on bug spray. You can stay away from alcohol. You can, according to the New York Times' recent recommendation, use an electric fan to blow them away. (Their beating wings aren't strong enough to handle a light gust, supposedly.)
But all these methods have drawbacks. Which is why something like the tiny and unobtrusive Kite Patch is worth getting excited about. The startup behind the patch, which is being featured on the fund-raising site Indiegogo, says the versatile deterrent works by using non-toxic chemicals to mess with the mosquito's long-range guidance systems: Namely, its ability to sniff out CO2. (CO2 is why pregnant women and people who are exercising are more susceptible to bites.) According to io9, a single patch works for up to 48 hours at a time.
According to a study published by the journal Nature in 2011, California researchers discovered a trio of chemical groups that can disrupt a mosquito's olfactory sensors. "These chemicals offer powerful advantages as potential tools for reducing mosquito-human contact," researcher Anandasankar Ray, a professor from the University of California, Riverside, said at the time. "[It] can lead to the development of new generations of insect repellents and lures."
Hence the Kite Patch, which already has the backing of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. The next step is to send 20,000 of the patches for testing in Uganda, which should prove a fertile testing ground: Malaria rates in the country hover near 60 percent.
If you're interested in supporting the Kite Patch, a $35 donation will send 10 patches to Uganda and backers will receive 10 to try out for themselves. As of writing this, the Indiegogo campaign has already smashed its $75,000 goal, with $240,000 and climbing.
It's not quite eradicating all mosquitos on Earth. But it's a start.
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