No one likes mosquito bites, and certainly not the ones that spread diseases. In a new study, scientists have found a way to protect us from yellow fever mosquitoes using static electricity.

Static electricity is created when objects rub together and build up electrical charges. You may sometimes feel a zap if there’s enough built-up charges. Many animals can detect static electricity with a sense called electroreception. This is much like how we can feel our hairs get frizzy when there’s static electricity nearby.

Taking inspiration from this, scientists tested static electricity on yellow fever mosquito behaviour. First, they created a tunnel where there was an electric field of 1000 volts per centimetre at one end. They found that yellow fever mosquitoes avoided the end of the tunnel.

Next, they put human scent in a room with aluminium blinds charged to 1500 volts per centimetre. Here, they found at least 90% of the disease-carrying mosquitoes didn’t dare go near the human scent! Thousands of volts might sound dangerous, but it takes around 3000 volts per centimetre for you to feel a static zap.

The scientists hope to create devices that can charge up spaces around homes to protect people from mosquitoes. What an ecstatic way to keep us safe and bite-free!

Mosquito close up sucking blood.

Mosquitos can sense static electricity – and they try to avoid it!


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