Scientists Have Found That a Product We All Have in Our Bathrooms Completely Eradicates Mosquitoes

Scientists Have Found That a Product We All Have in Our Bathrooms Completely Eradicates Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes rank among the most lethal creatures on Earth, but researchers suggest that a simple household product could effectively eliminate them.

Mosquitoes kill more people than any other animal in the world by spreading diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, West Nile virus, and yellow fever. Therefore, controlling mosquito populations is essential for public health. However, many of the available insecticide solutions that are based synthetic chemicals are ineffective.

"The problem is the resistance or adaptation of mosquito populations to various categories of chemical pesticides," said Colince Kamdem, an associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Texas at El Paso, to Newsweek. "Some mosquitos can survive exposure to 10 times the dose of insecticide that kills sensitive mosquitoes." It is important to find alternative solutions. 

Resilient mosquitoes pose a real threat, particularly in regions like Sub-Saharan Africa, which has a large number of the 247 million cases of malaria reported each year by the World Health Organization. Stronger and stronger chemicals are needed to improve mosquito control. A special category of insecticides called neonicotinoids has shown promise in lab tests and field trials as a second line of defense against resistant mosquitoes. But not all mosquito species are susceptible to these chemicals.

A study published on November 17 in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, sought to find a simple and effective method to boost the strength of this insecticide category. What they found was that adding plain bath soap could increase the potency of neonicotinoids by more than 10 times. "The mechanisms of interaction between soap and pesticides remain unclear," Kamdem said. "Based on our knowledge of the chemical properties of the surfactant substances contained in liquid soap, these substances may dissolve certain insecticides and reduce the thickness of the insect's skin, allowing more pesticides to reach their target tissues."

All three soap brands increased mosquito mortality from 30 percent to 100 percent compared to when the insecticides were used alone. However, the same results were not observed when the soaps were combined with a different category of insecticides known as pyrethroids.

The team hopes to use the findings to create a more effective, low-cost insecticide formula. "We would very much like to make a soap-insecticide formulation that can be used indoors in Africa and is healthy for users," Kamdem said. "It is unknown whether such a composition will stick to materials like mosquito nets, but the challenge is both promising and very exciting."