The Zika virus is now a global health emergency – spread by Aedis Aegypti mosquitoes, it has been linked to thousands of cases of microcephaly in South America and more than 2 billion people live in ‘at risk’ areas (regions with similar environmental and socioeconomic conditions to where it has spread so far).
In Brazil, which reported its first case in 2015, outdoor advertising company Posterscope and agency NBS have developed a billboard which is being used to attract and kill hundreds of mosquitoes each day.
A panel in the billboard emits a solution containing lactic acid and CO2, reproducing human breath and the smell of sweat. Fluorescent lights are also used to lure mosquitoes and Posterscope and NBS claim it can attract them from up to 2.5 kilometres away. Mosquitoes drawn to the billboard become stuck to it and eventually die of dehydration.
A pest control expert talking to the BBC yesterday claimed that the billboard could have an adverse affect by attracting mosquitoes to high density areas with lots of passers-by – however, he also said that any projects designed to reduce the number of biting female mosquitoes should be welcomed. Researchers in Canada have been developing low cost traps made from old tires and New York officials are planning to double the number of traps in the city this year as temperatures rise.
While a single billboard would have a limited effect, Posterscope and NBS have made the technology used to create the billboard publicly available so it can be installed in other affected parts of the world.
Another interesting use of outdoor ad space to improve public health was launched in Peru in 2013, when Mayo Draftfcb, Clear Channel and the Lima University of Engineering and Technology teamed up to create a billboard which turned clean air into drinking water. The billboard was installed in a rural part of the country with high levels of humidity and allegedly produced around 150,000 litres of water for local residents.
More info about the Mosquito Killer Billboard and the technology used to create it is available at mosquitokillerbillboard.com