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Singapore bug trap mimics attractive traits of humans

SINGAPORE (Reuters) — Forget the fly swatter — a new trap was launched in Singapore on Wednesday that lures biting insects to their doom by fooling them into thinking they are heading for a juicy human.

On the surface, the Mega-Catch trap — jointly developed by local exterminator PestBusters and New Zealand-based EnviroSafe Technologies — looks like a harmless, black plastic birdcage.

"It basically replicates a human target to a mosquito," Ken Child, EnviroSafe's managing director, told a news conference.

"It's got color that mosquitoes find most attractive. It's got a heat source that's set to the human skin temperature. It breathes out carbon dioxide gas — proven scientifically as the main attractor to mosquitoes."

The trap also gives off several frequencies of non-visible light that different species of mosquitoes can't resist.

Child said the trap was the first of its kind to mimic multiple facets of the human body to suck in blood-thirsty bugs. It's also tailored for hot, humid climates and common mosquito species that cause malaria or dengue fever.

Mosquitoes can detect carbon dioxide emissions from 30 metres (100 feet) away and home in on the source, PestBusters managing director Thomas Fernandez said.

Once the mosquitoes or other biting insects such as sandflies are close to the trap, a fan sucks them into a catch bag or a container of water where they are drowned.

Fernandez said the trap offers an environmentally friendly alternative to fogging an area with chemical pesticides — a common practice in Singapore — which also kills beneficial insects such as butterflies and lady birds.

Mega-Catch, which is being patented, took two years and about $625,000 to develop.

The trap runs on mains power or batteries, comes with a canister of carbon dioxide gas and is programmable. PestBusters rents out the devices for S$180 a month.