Honors Gallery

2011 Lethal mosquito breeding container Mid-Atlantic

Award: Excellence in Technology Transfer

Year: 2011

Award Type:

Region: Mid-Atlantic

Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR)

The World Health Organization considers dengue the most important mosquito-borne viral disease, with approximately 20 million cases a year and 100 countries affected. Dengue is a danger to not only those who live in tropical and subtropical climates, but also deployed U.S. military troops. A vaccine is not currently available, and mosquito control is a critical element of dengue disease prevention. There are reports that conventional ground and aerial applications of insecticides are not providing adequate control of the mosquitoes that transmit dengue. Dengue is primarily transmitted by the Aedes species of mosquito, which is a container breeder; the female Aedes mosquito will only lay eggs in a container holding water.

U.S. military research scientists Dr. Michael Perich of Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) and Brian Zeichner of the U.S. Army Public Health Command -Provisional (USAPHC) believed that they could use the “female mosquito’s irrepressible urge to oviposit” to develop a trap that had advantages over conventional methods of controlling the population of container-breeding mosquitoes.

The result was the lethal mosquito ovitrap, which consists of a pint-sized container filled with water, with a strip treated with a small amount of pesticide material. By killing adult female container-breeding mosquitoes and their mosquito larvae, the population of biting mosquitoes is substantially lowered, thus reducing both the potential for disease transmission and the breeding stock for the next generation.

Protected by several patents, the technology was field tested at WRAIR, with results of up to 100% adult mosquito mortality. Under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement between USAPHC and SpringStar, Inc., Zeichner worked with the small American company to design a commercial version of the lethal ovitrap that would be fit for mass production.

With a dengue outbreak in Florida in 2010, the state issued an emergency use permit; and SpringStar and Zeichner traveled to Key West to distribute lethal ovitraps to area residents. They worked in conjunction with the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, Armed Forces Pest Management Board, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Key West Naval Air Station.