Maldives island eliminated mosquitoes — a feat that's hard to repeat

Maldives island eliminated mosquitoes — a feat that's hard to repeat


Mosquito traps lure pests with environmentally friendly bait

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(Web Desk) - A private island in the Maldives is close to becoming a mosquito-free paradise, and it is doing so in an unusually eco-friendly way.

Instead of blanketing the small island with bug-killing chemicals, Soneva Fushi, a resort on Kunfunadhoo Island, deployed hundreds of mosquito traps that lure the pests with environmentally friendly bait, according to CNN.

The method has nearly eliminated mosquitoes from the tiny island, according to the resort, which plans to expand the program to other islands.

Such traps can help control mosquito populations wherever they’re deployed, but total elimination is likely only possible on places like these small, privately-owned slices of paradise where the environment is highly controlled, remote and travel to and from the area is curtailed.

Kunfunadhoo Island is less than a mile long and 430 yards wide, giving the resort a kind of control that’s unusual for mosquito-prone locations.

Mosquitos can put a dampener on a tropical vacation, as well as posing a health risk to everyone on the island. For years, Soneva has been trying to control the population.

“We had been looking at ways to manage mosquitoes without the use of chemicals,” Arnfinn Oines, Soneva’s director of social and environmental consciousness, told CNN.

While pesticides can be effective, they can harm other native insects and detract from the resort's eco-friendly image.

So in 2019, they turned to a Germany-based company called Biogents, which has developed a suite of traps that capture mosquitoes without using chemicals.

The resort set out about 500 different traps around the island. Some were designed to capture mosquitoes looking to lay eggs after biting a human, while others sought to snag bugs hunting for a meal.

Resort staff also worked to reduce sources of standing water, which are crucial for egg laying.

In the first year, the resort saw a 98% reduction in mosquitoes, according to CNN.

“We counted the mosquitoes caught on a daily basis — the counting certainly got easier as the numbers were reduced,” Oines told CNN.

“We got many positive comments from repeat guests that come back year after year, and thus noticed the difference.”

Soneva plans to expand the traps to other islands in the Maldives, according to CNN, and are hoping to open their first mosquito-free resort in 2024. But it's unclear whether the idea can scale.

Because Soneva’s success is likely only possible on small, privately-owned islands, that means mosquito-free vacations may be beyond the average tourist's grasp (unless one travels to a place without mosquitoes, of course).

So, if you’re looking to vacation in the tropics, you should still pack some bug spray.