JELEBU - "Fatal attraction" has reduced the number of mosquitoes and mosquito bites in Kampung Dusun Kubur, an orang asli village, here.
Unlike the usual mosquito coil that drives away these blood-sucking insects, Universiti Malaya scientists have invented a unique coil that attracts mosquitoes and then kills them, hence, reducing the mosquito population.
The university had tried out this innovative coil in this village and the folks, who had tried it for the past month, gave it the thumbs-up.
"Now, we can sit outside our house in the evening and at night without being bitten all over," said Temuan village head Tok Batin Kalimoi, 70.
Fellow villager Imuk Apat, 58, said: "I used to get bitten a lot but now I seldom get any bites even when I take baths in the river behind my house in the evenings."
She said despite the rain and winds, the pot that held the mosquito coil stayed intact.
The innovative coil is laced with attracticidal plant-based semio chemicals or pheromone-like compounds (believed to have similar characteristics to human sweat) to attract mosquitoes in the areas where they breed.
It then releases insecticide that kills them.
In a simple ceremony last Friday, where The Star was invited to attend, the villagers of Kampung Dusun Kubur received a year's supply of the coil from UM vice-chancellor for research and innovation Prof Dr Awang Bulgiba Awang Mahmud.
Each of the 50 households (comprising more than 300 villagers) also received two units of a special ceramic pot and mosquito coil holder.
Dr Awang said the villagers were to burn the 12-hour coils at dusk and place it in the pot and holder which allows the mosquito coil to be safely used outdoors.
The next step would be to get the villagers engaged in the manufacturing of the coil holder.
Dr Awang said the project was part of the Education Ministry's mosquito control technology transfer programme, adding that the village was chosen as it was near to the university's Biotechnology Education Centre.
Project lead scientist virologist Prof Sazaly Abu Bakar, who did his research for five years, said the use of the coil could reduce the mosquito population in the immediate surroundings.
"This is important, especially in areas with high vegetation where complete elimination of trapped water is difficult to achieve," he said, quoting a Health Ministry report that dengue had claimed over 75 lives and infected more than 38,000 Malaysians this year.
Asked if the coil used would affect the eco-system, he said it would kill mosquitoes only in the housing area and not colonies further away.
He hoped the technology would be used throughout the country, especially in areas with high dengue cases.