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Health & Science

Ohio Scientists Explore a Molecular Way to Control Mosquitoes

Before and after view of feeding mosquito
Ohio Agrcultural Research and Development Center
Mosquito Before and After Feeding

Scientists at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster are exploring a different strategy for controlling disease-carrying mosquitos. 

Peter Piermarini of OARDC
Credit Tim Rudell / WKSU
Peter Piermarini says keeping mosquitoes from urinating could make them vulnerable.

Forget pesticides.  Increasingly, mosquitos are adapting to survive those. Another idea is to block their kidney function.

Peter Piermarini of the research center says when adult female mosquitos feed — they’re the only ones that can — they bloat to three times normal size. Until they process nutrients from the blood and pass the liquid, they’ve vulnerable

“So we’re trying to target that, to make them more susceptible to the physiological stress of engorging and to make them more susceptible to predators. When they’re all loaded up with blood they have a harder time maneuvering.”

Piermarini says research has found molecules that keep mosquitoes from urinating and don’t affect other insects. But he says, several more years of study are needed before the technique can be rolled out.