Warning over mosquito repellent apps

06 August 2014 09:19

Mosquitoes can spread dangerous diseases such as malaria

Mosquitoes can spread dangerous diseases such as malaria

Smartphone apps which emit ultrasonic frequencies may help keep mosquitoes at bay, but experts warn against using them as standalone repellents.

Mosquitoes can be a serious problem for travellers as they can spread serious tropical diseases such as malaria, which can be fatal.

Electronic mosquito repellents, or EMRs, claim to work by emitting sounds mimicking those of mosquito predators such as bats and dragonflies.

Alternatively, they replicate the noise made by the wings of male insects as once a female mosquito has mated, she is thought to actively avoid contact with males.

The most popular app of its kind is the Anti Mosquito Sonic Repeller, which comes with a range of frequencies to target different species of mosquito, depending on location.

The app's developers claim that most people will not notice the sound it emits, as the pitch is so high it is inaudible to humans.

But the app does not guarantee 100% protection from mosquitoes as there are over 3,500 species, all of which react slightly differently to the sound.

In fact, experts have warned against using EMRs as sole repellents and stress the importance of using more conventional measures to avoid sustaining bites and having to claim for treatment on your medical travel insurance policy.

Researchers from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine found that EMRs had no impact on the landing rates of mosquitoes.

This means there is no evidence that such devices or apps could help prevent the spread of diseases such as malaria in humans, they say.

The experts also stress that there is little proof that female mosquitoes avoid males after mating, adding that it is in fact the males which are attracted by the female flight sound.

By contrast female mosquitoes have a very low sensitivity for sound compared to their male counterparts.

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