Fighting Mosquitoes With Pond Scum

MOSQUITOES ARE MORE than an annoyance. Worldwide, mosquito-borne illnesses infect about 700 million people a year and kill 3 million. But a Florida researcher has come up with a novel way to control the little buggers--put them on a diet.

Dov Borovsky, an insect biologist at the University of Florida at Vero Beach, says he has perfected a diet pill that alters mosquito digestion, making it impossible for them to feed and lay eggs. He synthesizes the hormone that switches the mosquito's digestive system on and off. In the lab, the hormone is absorbed by chlorella algae, a green scum found in ponds and swamps. The modified algae is reintroduced where mosquitoes breed, and the bugs and larvae feast on the algae and starve to death within 72 hours.

Borovsky says the starvation approach, unlike pesticides, does not alter the environment, and mosquitoes don't become resistant to the hormone because the chlorella stops producing it within three weeks. He expects to have his "diet pill" on the market within a year.

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