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World Changing Ideas

Brazil's Mosquito-Killing Billboard Uses Fake Human Sweat To Trap Insects

An ad agency is fighting the Zika virus by doing what it does best.

Brazil's Mosquito-Killing Billboard Uses Fake Human Sweat To Trap Insects

Photo: Anest via Shutterstock

Billboards may be ugly visual noise that pollutes our cityscapes and frazzles our brains with sensory overload, but they can also be used for good. For instance, how would you feel about an advertising billboard that attracts and kills mosquitos?

This Brazilian billboard does just that, by mimicking human sweat to lure in the little disease-carriers and then trapping them until they die of dehydration.

Designed by Brazilian ad agency Posterscope, the Mosquito Killer Billboard uses several mozzie-baiting tricks to attract the insects that are currently spreading the Zika virus throughout the country. The first is a combination of lactic acid and CO2, which replicates humans sweat and human breathing, both of which are used by mosquitos to locate their prey and can bring them in from up to 2.5 miles away. The billboard also uses fluorescent black lights to help attract them.

After that, it works like a regular trap. The mosquitos can get in, but they can’t get out, and they buzz around inside until they expire, dehydrated, and are collected in a tray at the bottom of the billboard. The design is tailored to attract only the Zika-carrying mosquito. "We had to develop a solution that could guarantee that only Aedes aegypti mosquitoes would be attracted—not other insects, only this specific one," says Posterscope’s Otto Frossard.

Best of all, the blueprints for the design are being made available under a Creative Commons license for anyone to download and use. Calling the diagram a "blueprint" might be pushing it, though—the image wouldn’t actually help you to build the billboard any better than my description of it above. But the Posterscope agency does promise technical help for anyone who wants to build their own, although the cost is currently around $2,800 per board.

The current panic in many countries is around the Zika virus, but killing mosquitos can also help protect against dengue fever and malaria. The best thing about this killer billboards, though, is that it takes two things people hate—advertising and blood-sucking insects—and combines them to make something great.

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