ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 44

Bio control to beat mosquito menace here

Sri Lanka is reported to be home to several dozen mosquito species. A few dozen among them are a nuisance and a smaller number transmit diseases (malaria, filaria, dengue and chikungunya among them). We also have the species that spread yellow fever.

Insects are known to be prone to diseases. An important one effectively used against caterpillar pests of crops is a bacterium called Bacillus Thuringiensis. A particular strain B. Thuringiensis israelensis has been found to be effective against some aquatic mosquito larvae.

Practical use has been made of this organism in South America – most notably in Peru. The methodology is widely published, including on the internet.

As a technology which is effective, simple, inexpensive and eco-friendly it is highly attractive to us. Importantly, it is also amenable to wide public participation.

Trained microbiologists and entomologists can readily assess the effectiveness and evolve a procedure best suited to our conditions. In outline, the method consists of dropping a pellet (to be supplied) of the organism into a coconut through an opening that is then sealed. Coconut water is known to be a favourable mechanism for growth of micro-organisms. (A Kurumba may prove even better than a mature nut).

After an appropriate period of storage a rich culture of the bacterium results. The contents are simply emptied into the stagnant water that is the breeding site. A single release is said to offer good control for a few weeks.

I am sure that “starter" samples of the relevant organism could be procured through the good offices of WHO, FAO, University Departments etc.

The most appropriate procedural details can be easily worked out. Submitted as a matter of national interest.

By Dr. U. Pethiyagoda, Fellow, National. Academy of Sciences

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.