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What is a Mosquito Magnet&Reg;?

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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 08 September 2016
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There are literally hundreds of products on the market today which claim to repel, trap, electrocute or otherwise dispatch disease-carrying mosquitoes. Many of these devices or chemical repellents only offer marginal protection, or no substantial protection at all. One promising type of mosquito trap, however, is called a Mosquito Magnetreg;, and it works primarily by imitating one of the best mosquito magnets of them all; human beings.

Scientists believe mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide, which explains why they will seek out humans who expel a lot of it through normal respiration. The Mosquito Magnet® uses a tank of compressed propane and a catalytic converter to generate carbon dioxide gas. A patented nozzle design disperses this gas in roughly the same concentration as human respiration. A chemical attractant is also mixed into the carbon dioxide emission. To a mosquito, the Mosquito Magnet® smells just like a large warm-blooded animal.

Once the mosquito reaches the source of the carbon dioxide emission, a powerful vacuum draws it into a waiting mosquito net, where it will eventually dehydrate and expire within 24 hours. The commercial Mosquito Magnet® can be placed at the edge of a mosquito-plagued area, hopefully presenting a more appealing target than the humans using the space for recreation and cooking.

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Theoretically, a homemade mosquito magnet could be constructed from materials found around the garage, although some of the parts used on the commercial version may not be easy to replicate. Small canisters of compressed propane gas are not difficult to obtain, but finding a suitable catalytic converter capable of turning propane into carbon dioxide could prove problematic. The nozzle would also need to be adjusted to duplicate natural respiration. Mosquitos are not attracted to higher concentrations of carbon dioxide, which would be lethal to most living things.

Setting up a shop vac to collect the mosquitoes would also be possible, but the canister would have to contain a suitable mosquito net or other mechanism to prevent the mosquitoes from escaping once the vacuum was turned off. All things considered, an enterprising do-it-yourselfer could probably create a workable alternative, but the commercial Mosquito Magnet® has already solved many of the technical difficulties he or she would face.

There are some experts who question the effectiveness of a mosquito magnet system. Such a device may trap a few thousand adult mosquitoes during an average night, but there are usually hundreds of thousands of other mosquitoes and flying insects to take their place. Mosquito traps which use attractants can actually bring more insects into an area than they can eliminate. If such a device as a Mosquito Magnet® were implemented, proper placement would be critical for maximum effectiveness.

An estimated 10% of the human population could also be considered mosquito magnets. They naturally attract far more mosquitoes and other flying insects as other people. Scientists now believe that genetics does play a role in whether or not a particular person would be a true mosquito magnet. Other factors such as skin care products, deodorants and fragrances only appear to play a small role in the phenomenon.

Human mosquito magnets often excrete a higher level of certain chemicals, such as cholesterol and uric acid. Female mosquitoes are attracted to these fragrances, since they signal a healthy and abundant blood supply. Larger adults also release more carbon dioxide when they breath out, which also makes them more attractive to mosquitoes seeking the most promising targets. Pregnant women are also more likely to become mosquito magnets, although scientists are not exactly sure why. Elevated hormone levels may be more of an attractant to mosquitoes and other flying insects.

If someone claims that he or she is a mosquito magnet, there is probably more than a grain of truth to it. Such people may benefit from sweating as little as possible during outside events and wearing chemical insect repellents which contain DEET.

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