Attractive toxic sugar bait (ATSB) is a highly effective method which targets mosquitoes based on their sugar foraging behavior, by presenting baits of attractive compounds in combination with sugar and oral toxin to local mosquito populations. Environmental concerns and insecticide selection-pressure have prompted investigations of novel, ecologically-harmless substances which can be used as insecticides. This study examined the efficacy of microencapsulated garlic-oil as the oral toxin component of ATSB for controlling Anopheles sergentii populations inhabiting desert-surrounded wetlands in Israel. ATSB solution containing 0.4% encapsulated garlic oil was applied to local vegetation around a streamlet located in the lower Jordan Valley. To determine the propensity of bait ingestion, and assess the potential ecological impact of the method, mosquito and non-target specimens were collected and tested for the presence of natural plant- or attractive sugar bait (ASB)-derived sugars. Over the experimental period, biting-pressure values in the ATSB treatment site decreased by 97.5%, while at the control site, treated with non-toxic ASB, no significant changes were observed. Approximately 70% of the mosquitoes collected before both treatments, as well as those captured following the application of ASB at the control site, were found to have ingested sugar prior to capture. Non-target insects were minimally affected by the treatment when ATSB was applied to foliage of non-flowering plants. Of the non-Diptera species, only 0.7% of the sampled non-target insects were found to have ingested ASB-solution which was applied to green vegetation, compared with 8.5% which have foraged on ASB-derived sugars applied to flowering plants. Conversely, a high proportion of the non-target species belonging to the order Diptera, especially non-biting midges, were found to have ingested foliage-applied ASB, with more than 36% of the specimens collected determined to have foraged on bait-derived sugars. These results prove that food-grade, EPA-exempt microencapsulated garlic oil is a highly effective insecticide which can be utilized for mosquito population control. The relatively short half-life of this active ingredient makes it a suitable for use in areas where repeated application is possible, limiting the accumulation of deleterious compounds and ensuring minimal environmental impact when applied in accordance with label recommendations.
- Anopheles sergentii