Earlier this year, Canadian and Mexican researchers working in Guatemala created mosquito trap made from discarded tires called an "ovillanta." The trap is formed by arranging sections of the tires into a mouth-like shape with a cavity that holds a nontoxic, milk-like substance to attract mosquitoes.
Old tires are a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, as they fill with water when it rains. There are thousands of discarded tires in Latin America where Zika is most prominent, and researchers have estimated that the mosquitoes that transmit Zika use discarded tires for nearly 1/3 of their breeding sites.
Aside from being remarkably effective (the tire traps killed seven times as many mosquitoes as standard traps the researchers set up in Guatemala) there are several other merits to using these particular traps:
- Tires are a universally affordable instrument in low-resource settings
- Giving old tires a new use creates an opportunity to clean up the local environment
- The traps are cheaper than using pesticides to kill mosquitoes, which don't always work, and can also harm bats and the environment.
The tire trap is a shining example of how cheap, everyday items can have a crucial impact on trapping mosquitoes and getting the Zika and other mosquito-born viruses under control.