BASF: Exploiting mosquito behaviour to control dengue

At the Worldwide Insecticide Resistance Network conference in Singapore this week, BASF entomologist and vector control expert, Dr. James Austin, called on the public health industry to take a new approach to combating mosquito-borne disease in urban high-rise environments.

“The Aedes mosquito that spreads diseases like dengue, Zika and chikungunya thrives in our man-made urban environment. Any small patch of shady water, from water barrels and plant pots to puddles and old tyres – even a screw cap from a beer bottle is enough for Aedes to breed. This makes it very difficult to control” said Austin, a senior scientist in BASF’s public

health research team. “And, as height is no barrier for mosquitoes, the trend towards high-rise living especially in Asia and South America creates very real mosquito abatement challenges”. Like humans, mosquitoes have a daily routine for feeding and resting on indoor and outdoor surfaces. James Austin is now encouraging public health professionals and agencies to exploit this behaviour in a ‘push-pull’ strategy that combines BASF’s non-repellent, resistance management insecticide, chlorfenapyr, with conventional methods.

BASF entomologist and vector control expert, James Austin (centre) working on field trials for insecticide-treated mosquito nets. Photo: BASF

He recommends an integrated approach using multiple tools: exterior application of repellent sprays, larvicides and barrier treatments plus non-repellent chemistry applied inside to typical mosquito resting areas such as wall bases, balconies, door sweeps, under beds, in stairwells and in air conditioning units. He also advocates treated bed nets to protect sleepers, especially infants, the elderly, pregnant women and the infirm, from mosquitoes already in the home.

An integrated approach combining new non-repellent and repellent technology is needed to address dengue in high-rise urban environments. Source: BASF

“The proven methods of the past are still important, but it is essential to understand mosquito behaviour and select the appropriate controls to exploit it. Resting mosquitoes cannot detect non-repellent insecticides and stay in contact with the active ingredient for longer, making it much more effective” explained Austin. “A combination of non-repellent and repellent treatments can also discourage resting in certain areas such as bedrooms and drive the mosquitoes to other treated rooms”.

Non-repellent insect control strategies have been used in the professional pest control industry for many years and BASF has established a leading role in developing alternative active ingredients to beat the mounting challenge of insecticide resistance. Austin believes that applying these new technologies and strengthening public-private collaborations between pest management professionals, health authorities and the community could be the key to preventing dengue and similar diseases.