Mosquitoes are an unfortunate part of spending more time outdoors during the summer. We light candles, slather ourselves with bug spray, or use high-tech gadgets to keep them away from our food, drinks and most importantly, skin.
For most of us, mosquitoes only threaten to leave an itchy bite, but the risks are growing. More than one million people worldwide die from mosquito-borne diseases every year, including malaria and West Nile Virus. When the life of your children or animals is on the line, a mosquito net and some spray just isn’t going to cut it.
A patch called “The Kite” could represent a huge step forward in controlling disease spread through mosquito bites. The same size and shape of a nicotine patch, The Kite uses patent-pending compounds that block mosquitoes’ ability to track humans for up to 48 hours. Designed to be placed on the wearer’s clothing, it acts like an invisibility cloak for people who need to function in mosquito-prone areas.
To understand how it works, we must first understand why it is that mosquitoes are drawn to humans in the first place. These ever-buzzing insects have a keen ability to detect carbon dioxide in the air. Unfortunately, humans and animals exhale this gas 24 hours a day.
Here’s where it gets cool: The patch contains non-toxic compounds scientifically proven to disrupt the mosquito’s carbon dioxide neurons. When affixed to clothing, it disrupts the mosquito’s ability to detect carbon dioxide, making the wearer virtually invisible to the bug’s normal hunting tactics. It also depresses the mosquito’s ability to detect human skin odors, which is the bug’s secondary strategy.
The compounds are patent-pending, which means Kite designers aren’t sharing the exact details. They do say that they are “FDA-approved compounds considered ‘flavors’ and IFRA-approved ‘fragrances’ that specifically target the mosquitoes’ receptor neurons used to detect carbon dioxide.” They also say that while “no one should eat or lick the Kite Patch…human contact with the Kite Mosquito Patch, including the process of buying, storing, unwrapping, touching, holding, smelling, and wearing the Kite Patch for any period of time is completely safe.”
So you’ll have to be the judge.
Still, if it proves to be a reliable replacement for all of the sprays, lotions and fan-powered solutions that are used currently, it could be a big win. Especially since it would be relatively easy to deploy in developing nations where these temporary fixes aren’t available or effective.
Currently the focus of a successful crowdfunding campaign, Kite will now move onto the testing phase in Uganda, a region that is at particular risk from mosquito-borne illness. Find out how you can help deliver a package of Kite Patches to a family in need by visiting the project page on Indiegogo. Click here for a Kite Patch fact sheet [pdf].
Image via Alvesgaspar