Mosquito-free dreams of a young girl-thip

This is not for the first time that Indira Arjun from Thiruananthpuram has been talked about, she had made it to the news earlier during the pandemic for her effective use of augmented reality (AR) technology to create edu-tech videos. Her youtube video on the use of AR technology for teaching primary students about animals was appreciated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself.

This inspired her to do more science videos and later she came up with an AR video on the human skeletal system which was useful for higher class students.

A unique attempt

During a time when several lakhs of students had to stay indoors and attend online class, little Indira Arjun made it a bit more interesting through her own in-home science experiments at Kalpakkam. Motivating and assisting her in the same was her grandmother, Rani Pradeep, a retired biology teacher. Building upon her passion for science, her grandmother asked her to build an Ovillanta mosquito trap using materials easily available around her home.

What is Ovillanta?

The ovillanta is a type of mosquito trap that was first designed by researchers at Laurentian University in Canada and was tested in cooperation with the Ministry of Health in Guatemala and researchers in Mexico. The ovillanta is seven times more effective than the traditional ovitraps and only two are required for controlling the Aedes mosquito population in 1 acre area, thus reducing diseases such as Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika in that area.

Indira used a simple 13 inch old tyre, a hanger, PVC pipe, silicone glue, a ball valve, PVC glue, filter paper and a bottle filled with water to make a working model of the classic eco-friendly, cost-effective mosquito trap. The tyre is cut into two halves and an opening is made at the bottom of one half. One end of the PVC pipe is inserted into the half tyre opening and fixed using silicone glue and the other end is fixed with a ball valve using PVC glue. The half tyre structure can be hung on the house balcony wall or garden using a hanger. Two litres of hay infused water is poured into the structure and filter paper strips are placed on both sides to float within the water solution.  

The Mechanism

Scrap tyres are the most preferred breeding site for Aedes mosquitoes, which are the vectors for Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika viruses. Use of scrap tyre filled with hay infused water attracts Aedes mosquitoes to land on filter paper strips floating in the water for laying eggs. At every 3 days interval the water is drained through a filter cloth and the paper strips replaced to remove/destroy any deposited eggs and larvae. The filtered water is then reused, since mosquitoes release pheromones when they lay eggs, which attracts further mosquitoes to the water solution.

It is cost-effective, simple and made from unused waste products, hence the Health services department can readily adopt the method for vector management with participation of the community.

What Future holds

This multi talented girl ‘s father, Dr. Arjun Pradeep is a scientific officer at Indira Gandhi Center for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam, Tamilnadu and mother Aparna Gangadharan is a housewife. Her future plan is to make an eco-friendly and biodegradable anti-mosquito soap and she is currently working on it.

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