New bug zapper targets mosquitoes, leaves other insects unharmed

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Photo: Intellectual Ventures LabPhoto: Intellectual Ventures Lab

Recently, inventors at the Intellectual Ventures Lab (IVL) in Seattle, Washington, built a prototype device that can now target specific insects without harming others.

The tech company developed the Photonic Fence, which scans for insects and then targets them based on their shape, size, wing beat frequency and the speed at which it travels.

“This approach could offer a new tool for mosquito control that works without constant human attention and with no collateral damage to the local ecology,” IVL says on its website.

“It would be used to complement bed nets, insecticides and other existing vector control techniques.”

The company says this zapper uses lasers to determine the good bugs from the bad; the device is able to distinguish between butterflies, bumblebees and mosquitoes and can even determine the gender of a mosquito.

“This is important to know because only female mosquitoes bite humans,” IVL adds.

Once the device recognizes and identifies a mosquito on the kill list, it will then shoot the insect with its laser.

“For the lethal demo, you start with a box of 25 mosquitoes and within a few seconds, there are 25 mosquito corpses on the floor of the box,” project lead Arty Makagon said online. “One application might be in agriculture, where the fence could protect crops from pests such as Asian citrus psyllid, which feeds on citrus leaves and stems, and can cause serious plant disease.”

If the trials prove successful, the company says the device could be used as an insect repellent in offices, hotels, homes and other public places.

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