North Carolina State University (NC State) researchers have created insecticide-free, mosquito-resistant clothing using textile materials they confirmed to be bite-proof in experiments with live mosquitoes. Using a computational model of their own design, they developed the materials which describes the biting behavior of the mosquito that carries viruses that cause human diseases like Zika, Dengue fever and yellow fever.
The researchers reported in the journal Insects that they were able to prevent 100 percent of bites when a volunteer wore their clothing—a base layer undergarment and a combat shirt initially designed for the military—in a cage with 200 live, disease-free mosquitoes.
To develop the computational model to design textile materials that could prevent A. aegypti bites, researchers investigated the dimensions of the head, antenna and mouth of A. aegypti, and the mechanics of how it bites. Then, they used the model to predict textile materials that would prevent bites, depending on their thickness and pore size. They believe the materials could be effective against other mosquito species in addition to A. aegypti because of similarities in biology and biting behavior.
“The fabric is proven to work; that’s the great thing we discovered,” said study co-author Andre West, associate professor of fashion and textile design at NC State and director of the Zeis Textiles Extension for Economic Development. “To me, that’s revolutionary. We found we can prevent the mosquito from pushing through the fabric, while others were thick enough to prevent it from reaching the skin.”
The researchers think their computational model could be used more widely to develop clothing to reduce transmission of diseases. Vector Textiles, an NC State startup company, has licensed the related patent rights and intends to make clothing for commercial sale in the U.S.