Mosquitos are a problem globally, and every person you ask has a different method for getting rid of them. Some methods work, some don’t. The fact that different methods work with different species also makes it more difficult to come up with an effective method to get rid of mosquitos. Research into using entomopathogenic fungi (or fungi that spread disease among insects) for killing mosquitos has brought some interesting things to light in the field of pest control.
Fungus has been shown to kill insects around the world, and the ongoing issue with Malaria in Africa has encouraged new research into controlling the mosquito population this way. While fungi for killing mosquitos has been looked into for a while, the amount of research being carried out in this area with a view to using it strategically for pest control has increased.
Entomopathogenic fungi work by acting as a parasite inside the body of the insects, attaching microscopic spores to the outside of the mosquito’s body. Given favourable conditions, such as the ideal temperature and humidity, these spores germinate, boring through the insect’s outer body until they reach the body cavity inside, and from thern on the mosquito starts to die. The exact pathogen that is spread depends on which fungus is being used. So far, those fungi that have shown results have been very effective. They have been seen to kill off a large proportion of the mosquitos in the area treated.
One of the major benefits to controlling mosquitos with entomopathogenic fungi, is that the method is not only natural but more environmentally responsible. Using fungi means there is the potential for communities worldwide to get rid of these potentially dangerous insects, without using any kind of harsh chemicals. So far, there have been no major side effects found to humans or mammals, and no side effects have been predicted. Past products that have used fungi to kill insects have shown no effects on anything besides the target species.
Many other methods of killing mosquitos only target one stage of a mosquito’s lifespan. This means you could kill off all of the adults but leave the larvae and vice versa. Most entomopathogenic fungi are effective in being able to target multiple life stages. The more stages of the life cycle a pest control product can target, the better one can eliminate the mosquito population of a location as a whole.
There are currently two main challenges that stand in the way when it comes to using fungi to kill mosquitos. Firstly, a fungal extermination method has to be cheap. Developing countries cannot afford a lot of money to get rid of mosquitos. This is even more important in poverty stricken parts of Africa where people face malaria and other mosquito born diseases. Another challenge is the fact that killing mosquitos with entomopathogenic fungi requires different application methods for different fungi. As soon as an easy to use, reliable method for killing mosquitos with fungi can be developed, it will be significantly closer to being released into the market.
Another challenge to using fungi to kill mosquitos is the fact that you need a generic fungus to create a multi-purpose product. You can’t use a fungus that is only targeted towards a specific type of mosquito if you want to market it as a product for everyone to use.
Selling a fungus that eliminates mosquitos has been done before. One company made a pest control roduct with an entomopathogenic fungus known as Lagenidium, which was sold during the 1990’s, but it did not build up enough of a customer base to continue. A range of other fungi are being experimented with, including Coelomomyces and Culicinomyes. The Coelomomyces is very effective at killing off a wide variety of different mosquito types, but the fungi is extremely hard to produce. Culicinomyes has a different problem, in that a lot of the fungi is required for it to be effective, and spores don’t linger in the air for long so frequent reapplication is required.
While killing insects in general with various types of fungus is not a new practice, exterminating mosquitos with it is still a process that is being studied and developed. Despite this, there is a lot of promise being shown for this method of killing mosquitos. The past attempt to sell such a pest control product is an indicator that it is possible, people just need to become aware of it.