'Sweaty' Billboards in Brazil Used to Trap Zika Virus-Carrying Mosquitoes

zika virus billboard brazil mosquito
The Mosquito Killer Billboard replicates human breath and sweat to attract and kill mosquitoes. Creative Commons

A new advertising campaign in Brazil is targeting—and killing—a very specific demographic: Mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus.

Two billboards in Rio de Janeiro are being used to lure and kill thousands of Zika-carrying Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes by imitating the smell of the human body.

By releasing a lactic acid solution that is also found in human sweat, as well as carbon dioxide that is found in human breath, the Mosquito Killer Billboards claim to be able to attract mosquitoes from up to 2.5 miles away.

A catch mechanism in the bottom of the billboard draws mosquitoes into the panel, which contains a cage that traps the insects.

Posterscope and NBS, the agencies behind the initiative, released the blueprints of the billboard design in the hope of spreading the idea to other areas of the world affected by the Zika virus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Zika Virus a global public health emergency in a report last month, calling for an urgent answer to the problem.

zika virus billboard brazil mosquito sweat
The Mosquito Killer Billboard attracts mosquitoes from up to 2.5 miles away using lactic acid and carbon dioxide to replicate human sweat and breathing. Posterscope/ Creative Commons

One of the solutions proposed by WHO was "vector traps"; however, the organization said limited field tests of the technology have been inconclusive and more research is needed before these traps are rolled out on a significant scale.

"Vector trap technology may reduce mosquito populations by attracting and killing egg-laying female mosquitoes and also has potential for improved vector surveillance," the report states.

"Though preliminary evidence was reviewed by the committee, evidence for the public health value of vector traps needs to be more fully established and operational considerations addressed."