Because mosquitoes carry diseases like malaria and dengue fever, and irritate us, humans do a lot to avoid them. In most places people have to fend for themselves against the pests by sleeping under mosquito nets or using repellant. A number of new repellant formulas have hit the market in recent years, many with questionable efficacy. Researchers at New Mexico State University decided to compare the effectiveness of different repellants and perfumes, according to a study published recently in the Journal of Insect Science.
Dengue fever is so excruciating that it is often called the “bone breaker,” causing severe pain in the joints and abdomen, vomiting, and circulatory system failure. It's nearly impossible to treat, so the only way to cut down on incidences of the disease is to decrease the number of mosquitoes that carry it. One startling effective way to do that: genetically modifying mosquitos so their offspring won't survive. A year-long trial with genetically modified mosquitoes in northeast Brazil has been the most successful yet, reducing the population of the disease-carrying insects by 95 percent, according to a study published last week in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.