Philadelphians debate whether parks and rec centers should use anti-personnel weapons that indiscriminately target children

The "Mosquito" is a high-pitched tone generator designed only to be audible to children and teens, and not to adults, in whose ears the nerve cells that detect these high tones have died off. Read the rest

Bill Gates wants us to fear mosquitoes, not sharks

Bill Gates has a long, complicated and showy relationship with malaria eradication, and in a new letter, he makes a case that mosquitoes are Earth's deadliest animals, outkilling even the murderous h. sap.. Read the rest

Google sister company is trialing a mosquito eradication plan in Fresno

We live at the confluence of two ages: the first rush of climate change, which is bringing new species and new pathogens to territories they've never been known in; and the nascent age of genetic engineering, which holds out the promise of eliminating these pathogens, and not just in the wealthy territories they've moved into, but throughout the world, including the poor countries where they are deadly scourges. Read the rest

Mosquito bite relief on your keychain

I've been using one of these $10 mosquito bite zappers for years. It's like a little stun gun - you hold the business end against an itchy mosquito bite and pull the trigger. It sends a little spark of electricity (it feels like a static electricity shock you get from walking across a carpet). I usually give myself about eight zaps and it stops the itching for hours. The manufacturer says the zapper suppresses histamines responsible for itching.

When I first got it, my kids were scared of the little shock. But they soon came around to the point were they happily self-administered the treatment. Read the rest

Zika hits the US military: 33 service members now have virus, says Pentagon

Pentagon officials told reporters today that at least 33 active-duty American service members, one of whom is a pregnant woman, have Zika. Read the rest

How would we get rid of every single mosquito?

In this episode of the Flash Forward podcast we travel to a future where humans have decided to eradicate the most dangerous animal on the planet: mosquitos. How would we do it? Is it even possible? And what are the consequences?

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We talk to experts on mosquito ecology, public health, and a guy who’s trying to genetically engineer mosquitoes to eliminate themselves. We talk about everything from how hard it would be to exterminate mosquitoes, to which species we should target, to what the potential side effects might be. Listen for all that and more!

▹▹ Full show notes

Check out all the great podcasts that Boing Boing has to offer! Read the rest

Why it's so hard to make a better mosquito repellent

Since 2008 Leslie Vosshall, director of the Vosshall Laboratory at Rockefeller University, has been working on making a better mosquito repellent than DEET. In this Atlantic article by Ed Yong, she explains why it's so hard to keep the tiny vampires from sucking our blood.

“Narrowly focusing on a single sensory pathway to stop mosquitoes is doomed,” she says, because they track their prey with so many different cues. “It’s an incredibly smart strategy. From the mosquito’s point of view, there are a lot of unreliable signals in nature, so they integrate multiple pathways. They have a Plan B at every point.”

Read the rest

Use this shocking gadget for mosquito bite relief

This little gadget, called the Zap-It ($(removed) on Amazon), delivers a small electrical shock to a mosquito bite, making the itch stop. It uses a piezoelectric crystal to create the spark, so no batteries are needed. According to the UK's National Physical Laboratory, the shock (which in my experience is less painful than a static electricity zap) "acts on the skin of an insect bite victim to reduce excess production of histamine, and the associated redness and itching. Results from a clinical trial conducted at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine concluded that more than 90% of test subjects were itch-free within five minutes of using the Zap-It! product."

My family has been using a similar piezoelectric zapper for years to make mosquito bites stop itching. My daughters have also learned that you can zap your wrist to make your fingers twitch, so the gadget doubles as a toy.

They manufacturer recommends starting with five clicks on a mosquito bite, but we zap ourselves 20 times or more. As J.R. "Bob" Dobbs says, "'Too much' is always better than not enough." Read the rest

Why science needs silly-sounding research

Earlier this week, scientists announced that they'd found evidence suggesting malaria-carrying mosquitoes are more attracted to the smell of human flesh than healthy mosquitoes. This research — which, I'm sure you'll agree, has some important implications — grew out of research that could be deemed very silly. In fact, this new finding was built on IgNobel-winning research published back in 1996, which found that malaria mosquitoes are attracted to the smell of stinky cheese. Read the rest

The bug killing tool preferred by mosquito researchers

Meet The Executioner.

Earlier today, I got a tour of the mosquito breeding facility at North Carolina State University. Basically, it's a small room — about the size of my bathroom at home — where scientists breed and grow the mosquitoes they use in scientific research. The downside: Mosquito enclosures are somewhat less than foolproof. Which means the mosquito breeding facility has a significant number of loose mosquitoes. That's where The Executioner comes in. There were multiple Executioners in that one small room. Then entire time I was talking with the scientists, they were simultaneously swinging around these electrified tennis racquets to zap any mosquito that blundered into their personal space.

Personally, I consider this a hell of an endorsement for any bug killing tool. Read the rest

Genetically modified mosquitoes proposed for anti-dengue fight in Key West

British biotechnology company Oxitec Ltd is trying to convince the locals in Key West to use genetically modified mosquitoes in their fight to eradicate dengue fever in the area. What could possibly go wrong? Read the rest