Fight Mosquitoes with Laser Beams

Rocket scientists take on the malaria-carriers with ultimate game of laser tag

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

We all hate mosquitoes, but what can you do to fight them other than slather on deet and swat yourself like a madman? Thanks to some rocket scientists—the ones who suggested lasers to shoot Soviet missiles from the skies during the Cold War—laser beams may be aimed at the pests to fry them into oblivion.

The mosquito laser is a red beam that locates individual pests and kills them with a small flame and a tiny puff of smoke. It can differentiate between males and disease-carrying females and is also harmless to humans and—take a sigh of relief—butterflies. The researchers imagine entire villages protected by a laser barrier and airplanes that sweep lasers across mosquito-ridden areas like crop dust.

The laser’s original use was to knock out the Soviets and the researchers are treating the mosquito as a comparable enemy. Jordin Kare, an astrophysicist who once worked at a lab where some of the deadliest weapons were born, told The Wall Street Journal, “We’d be delighted if we destabilize the human-mosquito balance of power.”

And what a power struggle it is. Malaria kills about 1 million people each year and scientists continue to come up with creative ways of curbing the spread of the disease. Some ideas include building malaria-free mosquitoes that are genetically altered to take over the natural ones or turning them into “flying syringes” that deliver vaccines instead of disease.

If these lasers ever hit the mainstream market, mark us down for a couple. We’ve had enough nasty bites to justify zapping a few of those evil skeeters.

—Morgan Keys

Rocket Scientists Shoot Down Mosquitoes With Lasers (Wall Street Journal)

Image Credit: hellochris

Trending on Backpacker