Laser Mosquito Zapping

The Wall Street Journal reports on an update to the bug zapper, lasers to add 100 feet or so of range to mosquito zapping.

Malaria remains a major global public-health threat, killing about 1 million people annually. Scientists around the world are testing ways of thwarting mosquitoes with microwaves, rancid odors, poisoned blood and other weapons that disrupt the sense of sight, smell and heat mosquitoes use to find their prey.

There’s work on genetically altering a bacterium to infect and kill a mosquito, and a project to build a malaria-free mosquito genetically enhanced to overtake the natural kind.

There’s also a researcher in Japan who thinks mosquitoes can be a force for good. He is working on transforming them into “flying syringes” that deliver vaccines with every bite.

Dr. Wood, Dr. Kare and another Star Wars scientist teamed with an entomologist with a Ph.D in mosquito behavior and other experts. They killed their first mosquito with a hand-held laser in early 2008.

* A regular PC runs the system
* Maglite flashlights
* a zoom lens from a 35mm camera
* and the laser itself

To locate individual mosquitoes, light from the flashlights hits the tank across the room, creating tiny mosquito silhouettes on reflective material behind it. The zoom lens picks up the shadows and feeds the data to the computer, which controls the laser and fires it at the bug.

In a video, researchers showed what happens when they deploy deadly rays.

A mosquito hovers into view. Suddenly, it bursts into flame. A thin plume of smoke rises as the mosquito falls. At the bottom of the screen, the carcass smolders.