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Mosquito Trap

Attract mosquitoes with the help of CO2 gas and octenol extracted from mushrooms, then dehydrate them in a trap.

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In this project, I will not reinvent the earth again and use a computer cooling fan to catch and hold the mosquitos. I am greatly inspired by some of the commercial products. But the problem with them is their price tags. Of course, they invest money, time, and effort into them to catch an excellent performance; but mine is neither aiming for those high performances, nor their prices.

I have done my research on the subject and in short, found that mosquitoes are attracted to CO2 and octenol. This attraction force can be increased by adding an infrared light source to the device. Now the journey begins with these keeping in mind starting from scratch.

I respect all living things, but things get complicated when it comes to mosquitoes. I respect them too, but I can't stand their buzz around me. They are indeed the deadliest predators and maybe play an important role in evolution [1]. Anyway, I don't like them, but they do like me. To equalize the equation, I started to learn more about them before eliminating them.

They are "sensory" creatures; I mean, they are equipped with sensors. They can detect infrared radiation from your blood vessels. They can detect surrounding airflow, carbon dioxide, and the smell coming from your skin. These are not restricted to these. Check out the video given also below. So, they are complicated creatures, and faking them would not be easy.

After searching and reading a lot of materials, the best and hopefully the effective solution could be to make a trap. 

This trap will:

  1. Attract mosquitoes
  2. Suck them with a fan/impeller
  3. Trap them inside a container

Attracting mosquitoes is not easy. They are attracted to carbon dioxide and octenol. For example, using only a carbon dioxide gas will not work or work effectively than using carbon dioxide together with octenol [2].

I will try to extract octenol from mushrooms using a maceration technique. By the way, octenol and octanol are different chemicals. I will give details of extracting octenol later. After I have plenty of octenol then I will use this chemical as cartilage inside of the trap. I will also supply the system with a carbon dioxide source. 

There will be a funnel inside of the trap. At the end of the funnel, a computer fan will be placed which sucking air from the top to the bottom of the trap. The air inside of the trap will be mixed with the attractive gasses, and then exit the trap from the sides. The trap mechanism is given in the figure below.

I gave a detailed drawing of the diffuser in the figure below. On top of the diffuser, I will place my homemade octenol cartridges.

[1] T. C. Winegard, The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator, 1st edition. New York: Dutton, 2019.
[2] T. Chaiphongpachara and S. Sumruayphol, “Efficacies of five edible mushroom extracts as odor baits for resting boxes to attract mosquito vectors: A field study in Samut Songkhram Province, Thailand,” Tropical biomedicine, vol. 35, pp. 653–663, Oct. 2018.

step - 1.53 MB - 09/23/2021 at 13:02

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  • Mushroom Bait Preparation

    Engin10/03/2021 at 12:03 0 comments

    I went to a local grocery store to buy mushrooms. The one that was on the shelf was a Champignon or "white button" type. I was searching for an oyster mushroom because it has already been tested in a study and has attracted more mosquitoes compared to the other types. This may be due to the amount of octenol content in the extract. In my internet research, I found that octenol gives a unique smell to mushrooms together with some other compounds and can be determined by its smell even at low amounts. [1] According to the researchers, octenol is the most abundant in the total volatile fraction constituting  %44.3-%97.6, depending on the extraction method. [2] So I will use the odor to verify if there is an octenol in my extract. This measurement will not be scientific but definitely give an idea.

    Cleaning and chopping mushrooms:

    Mushrooms contain too much water. The first step of the extraction is to remove water from the mushrooms. We do not want to evaporate volatiles during this drying process. It has been stated that most of the octenol can be lost during drying. [1] To minimize the loss, I roughly sliced the mushrooms and placed them in a well-ventilated place, which is the balcony in my case. Beware of direct sunlight hitting them while drying if you repeat this process.

    My balcony has windows and it allows protection from cold and warmth, also from insects. I live in a pretty dry place where humidity levels are considerably low. I left the sliced mushrooms there for about 3 days, leaving one of the windows slightly open to ventilate the room. I regularly checked them to see if they were crispy. One day I figured that there were flies flying inside, which was not usual because I had left the window open many times before for other reasons. I think that was not a coincidence, because it has been stated that octenol is also attracting flies. There are mushroom-insect mutualistic interactions due to the volatiles emitted by mushroom sporophores which play an important role in attracting flies and mosquitoes to disseminate spores. [2] This put a smile on my face, but wasted no time; I gathered them in and tried to protect the volatiles as best I could.

    Dissolving the content:

    I decided to use %96 ethanol to dissolve the ingredients of the mushrooms that I bought from a grocery store. But first, I sliced the dried mushrooms in a food processor to further break down the cells, and allow the ethanol to penetrate. The volume of the mushrooms was greatly reduced and could be placed in a small bottle. After adding the ethanol, I left the mixture to stay at least 48 hours to do its job.

    Next, I will filter the solvent from the mixture and try a couple of ideas to further concentrate the extract. I am also deciding to repeat this process for other types of mushrooms.

    References:

    [1] J. A. Maga, “Mushroom flavor,” J. Agric. Food Chem., vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 1–4, Jan. 1981, doi: 10.1021/jf00103a001.

    [2] E. Combet et al., “Eight-carbon volatiles in mushrooms and fungi: properties, analysis, and biosynthesis,” Mycoscience, vol. 47, no. 6, pp. 317–326, Dec. 2006, doi: 10.1007/S10267-006-0318-4.

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A. Matulich wrote 09/29/2021 at 21:24 point

This reminds me of a documentary I saw about trapping tsetse flies, which are a vector for various blood diseases. The researchers, knowing that tsetse flies attack cows as well as people, built a partitioned box for a cow to stand in, with an electrocution screen on each end, to see which half of the cow resulted in the most dead flies. It was the front end, suggesting that cow's breath was a strong attractant. So they analyzed the breath and found that the main components, CO2 and acetone, attracted a significant quantity of flies when CO2 was bubbled through acetone behind an electrocution screen, although not as many flies as the whole front of the cow. If there is any acetone in human breath (I have no idea), I am wondering if adding that to the octenol would help.

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Engin wrote 10/03/2021 at 19:12 point

I heard acetone being released in human breath. I think it’s worth trying.

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A. Matulich wrote 10/03/2021 at 21:26 point

Maybe use a flask of acetone with a two-hole stopper between your CO2 canister and the diffuser. One tube goes into the stopper down to the bottom of the flask and the other tube is just at the top. Acetone evaporates quickly, so you don't need a diffuser or bubble stone in there, just big bubbles blooping out of the tube at the bottom of the flask.

Or maybe try to dissolve the octenol from the mushrooms with acetone? I have no idea if octenol is soluble in acetone, but acetone and water do mix (like ethanol and water but not as easily), so it may work.

A beekeeper told me that bees get aggravated by alcohol on the breath. Mosquitos also may not like the smell of ethanol. Again, I have no idea. These are just thoughts that come to mind as I think about your project description.

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