Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Fatal Attraction
10 June 2013

Fatal Attraction

It’s a biological booby trap. Female A. stephensi mosquitos are standing over H. subflexa caterpillars (alive on the left, and dead on the right). But it’s not the caterpillar itself that’s so attractive to the mosquitos, rather what’s inside them – a deadly, yet irresistible, fungus. A minute’s contact with the fungal carriers is all it takes to infect and kill the mosquitos. In the future, the fatal fungus (B. Bassiana, seen as the white ‘fur’ sporulating out from the caterpillar cadavers on the right) may be used as a biopesticide, coated onto the surfaces of walls and nests, diverting mosquitos away from homes or schools, and infecting malaria carriers like A. stephensi before they can transmit their own deadly disease.

Written by John Ankers

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