The use of recycled materials is not only good for the environment. Sometimes, it is simply the best way to get a job done. Such is the case with the ovillanta mosquito traps crafted from old tires and tested in Guatemala. Over the course of ten months, researchers supported by the Guatemala Ministry of Health’s Vector Control Program observed the number of mosquito eggs collected by the simple traps. Based on their pending study, the ovillanta tire traps captured seven times the number of eggs as a standard trap.
The ovillanta traps are specifically deployed to capture mosquitoes of the Aedes genus. These mosquitoes are those notoriously known for transmitting devastating viruses, such as Zika, dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever. Aedes mosquitos can become resistant to pesticides and although adults only live for about two to four weeks, eggs can remain viable for up to a year. This enables populations to mitigate the effects of hazardous weather. Many communities lack the resources to deal with this resilient pest and are particularly vulnerable to outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases.
The ovillanta is composed of two 20-inch segments of a used car tire, which is joined together to create a basin. “We decided to use recycled tires – partly because tires already represent up to 29 percent of the breeding sites chosen by the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, partly because tires are a universally affordable instrument in low-resource settings, and partly because giving old tires a new use creates an opportunity to clean up the local environment,” says lead researcher Gerardo Ulibarri.
The mosquitoes are lured into the tire’s basin with a non-toxic substance that includes a special mosquito pheromone, which signals to pregnant mosquitoes that this is a safe place to lay their eggs. The eggs are then dropped on a small “raft” floating in the solution, which is removed twice a week so that the eggs may be removed and destroyed. This low-tech solution costs only a fraction of traditional techniques and does not harm other animals in the process of catching the mosquitos. A tutorial for constructing an ovillanta can be found here.