You are here

Biodegradable Vector Control System



OBJECTIVE: Develop a biodegradable pesticide delivery system targeting mosquitoes. 

DESCRIPTION: Mosquito-borne diseases pose serious health risks to military troops deployed around the globe. The military’s strategic focus continues to shift further away from conventional warfare to complex ambiguous urban and semi-urban operations. This shift significantly impacts how we protect troops from mosquito-borne diseases and maintain medical readiness in the field. A “fire and forget” mosquito suppression system provides military personnel with the capability of system deployment without the need to refill or reapply to achieve protection. Mosquito control remains the primary defense against vector-borne diseases. Standard preventive deterrence against mosquito-borne diseases incorporates Integrated Pest Management (IPM) with Personal Protective Measures (PPMs). In many situations, mosquito control efforts are limited to the direct suppression of mosquitoes using conventional pesticides. The popularity of conventional pesticides is mainly due to their ability to quickly suppress mosquitoes. However, from a tactical standpoint, there are many challenges and issues associated with their use. (1.) Applicators’ requirement to be trained and licensed. This significantly limits the number of personnel who can provide mosquito control services during deployments. In addition, trained applicators often have large workloads, supporting troops at various sites within their area of operations. (2.) Support is restricted to fixed site (base) operations. It is difficult to provide services to maneuvering units since time/location of their movements are unpredictable and the locations they occupy are often hazardous. (3.) Potential environmental issues. Conventional pesticides are difficult to confine to a specific target and therefore have potential to harm other non-target organisms and pollute the environment. (4.) Failure to target specific target pest. Many pesticides are limited by their delivery method and fail to come into contact with the specific pest. (5.) Traps need to be collected or refilled. This increases risk in a combat environment. (6.) Pesticide Resistance. Due to excessive use of pesticides, many mosquitoes are resistant to them. (7.) Provide intelligence for the enemy. Do it your self-pest control equipment such as mini foggers, bait stations and light traps (zappers) are often left in place as forces move from location to location. This may provide critical information to enemy forces such as the size of the friendly element or the direction of movement. Novel control methods are needed to augment the DoD’s current mosquito control strategy and meet the needs of the future complex and ambiguous battle space. The DoD Armed Forces Pest Management Board (AFPMB) identified the need for additional pesticides for controlling malaria mosquitoes and new EPA-registered pesticides for public health use as one of its top six research priorities for military entomology in its 2011research report. Further, AFPMB Capability Gap Assessment reinforces the requirement. Multiple research efforts continue on new pesticides, however, the delivery system for new toxicants is not addressed and is an identified shortfall not just for malaria vectors but all disease carrying dipterans. The purpose of this project is to develop a novel biodegradable delivery capability that can be used to deliver a variety of pest control products. Specific objectives for this product are as follows: • Delivery system • Composed of non-toxic biodegradable material • Operational use lasting for a minimum of three months • Can be formed into a variety of containers • Can hang from structures or vegetation • Can be deployed by aircraft onto land (adult resting sites) and into bodies of water (larval habitats), where they subsequently degrade and kill mosquito larvae • Inconspicuous, able to blend in with the operational environment • Composed of material that reduces IR detectability • Possess the capability to effectively add attractants and toxicants for targeted vector species (multiple attractants and classes of toxicant) • Must be able to hold liquids for at least the duration of effective use • Must be shelf stable for at least 1 year 

PHASE I: This phase of the SBIR focuses on developing the initial concept and design for the biodegradable delivery system. Phase I proposal focus efforts; 1) biodegradable material down selection 2) developing station geometry targeting mosquito species (Aedes & Anopheles), 3) Color range targets spectrum outside human spectrum for attractiveness and evaluation of IR spectrum for tactical considerations, 4) attractant and toxicant matrix delivery system (combined and separate design). Phase I will demonstrate a successful and effective device capable of emanating commercial attractants and delivering commercial toxicants or other control mechanism which is biodegradable, easily deployed by non-technical personnel. 

PHASE II: During Phase II the prototype design will be developed and tested in both laboratory and field environments for efficacy in ability to disburse attractants and deliver a toxicant to medically important mosquitoes. The end of phase II identifies capabilities for a biodegradable 3 month stable device. 

PHASE III: During this phase the selected contractor will finalize the design of a production model and commercialize the desired device. Military Application: Military personnel operating in the continental United States and deployed environments around the world deploy the device to protect from mosquitoes without concerns for maintaining the system. The selected contractor provides a report that summarizes the performance of the biodegradable non-toxic pesticide system device to the AFPMB and a request for assigning it a National Stock Number (NSN). Commercial Applications: The proposed SBIR has commercial applications outside of the military. In order to increase marketability, this device should be modified for indoor use and made capable of controlling mosquito pests in the yard. Furthermore, a novel mosquito control device as such as this would be of great value to organizations involved in control operations such as: Mosquito Control Districts, pest management professionals, and Public Health agencies. 


1: Cook, J and P. Halley, A biodegradable mosquito trap will soon be the latest weapon against the spread of dengue fever in far North Queensland, Australia. Medical News and Life Sciences,

2:  Ritchie SA et al. 2009. A lethal ovitrap-based mass trapping scheme for dengue control in Australia: I. Public acceptability and performance of lethal ovitraps. Med Vet Entomol

3:  23 (4): 295-302.

4:  AFPMB Technical Guide No. 24 . 2012. Contingency Pest Management Guide

KEYWORDS: Mosquito Control, Biodegradable, Toxicant, Pest Management, Insect Attractants, Readiness 


Lee McPhatter 

(301) 319-9683 

Jorge Lopez 

(301) 319-9977 

US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government