Using Biomimicry to Reduce a Dangerous Pest
Mosquito-borne illnesses impact millions of people every year, causing thousands of deaths due to malaria, and hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations due to dengue fever and a dozen other diseases, including the Zika virus, and the EEE (Eastern Equine Encephalitis) virus. It is a serious and urgent worldwide health problem.
A group of graduate students, participating in the 2018 Biomimicry Challenge, used HOBO data loggers to help with testing a device they developed to combat mosquito-borne illness. This team’s project was selected as one of seven finalists in this worldwide challenge, competing for a $100,000 prize.
“Biomimicry is the imitation of the models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems.”
The team looked at nature to see how they could help protect vulnerable populations from mosquito-borne illnesses, and effectively manage mosquito population in sustainable way.
How does nature capture mosquito larvae?
One of the best examples is the uniquely named, bladderwort plant. The bladderwort is a carnivorous aquatic plant species commonly found in shallow ponds.
Inspired by the bladderwort plant, the team developed the UPOD:
UPOD is a solar-powered device that responds to the dynamic environment of breeding sites, and kills mosquitoes at the larvae stage without the use of chemicals.
The UPOD team used two HOBO data loggers for monitoring conditions during their testing with mosquito larva.
The team tested their UPOD prototypes at the same stage in the larva development, and with results from the HOBO data loggers, they were able to have reliable records of the environmental conditions during their tests.
The HOBO data loggers were used to verify that the mosquitos have been kept in the proper environment, so that the killing of the mosquito larva is clearly from the UPOD, not the environment.
While the UPOD didn’t win the Biomimicry challenge, it highlighted the importance of developing sustainable management of mosquito populations.
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