Breaking Mosquitoes of Blood Habit
Can mosquitoes be trained to stop biting people? The scientists at Penta5, a Sarasota-based company, think they can do so with the new MosquitoPaQ. Penta5 founder Charles Murray even joked at a Friday awards ceremony that the product could turn mosquitoes into a vegetarian species. “We have such pride in this product,” says Sandra Murray, Penta5 vice president of marketing. “This can help stop people from dying of malaria, or stop babies from being harmed by the spread of Zika.”
The product was honored Friday with the Ringling College Innovation by Creative Design award, an honor bestowed annually by the Sarasota arts school and the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County.
Scientists at Penta5, a company that works with chemical products from metabolism-boosting water drinks to insulated juice packs, have been developing the MosquitoPaQ product for about eight years. The product puts out a chemical to attract mosquitos that will extinguish the insects’ desire for blood. It has been marketed as a way to combat flaviviruses like Zika using environmentally sound, organic means.
“We don’t kill the mosquito,” stresses Sandra Murray. “They belong in the food chain, and we were dead set against disrupting an ecosystem.” She wishes state agencies and local jurisdictions that right now are spraying Zika-heavy areas with insecticides would consider the organic approach of using MosquitoPaQs instead. “I know people who for years have had mosquitoes in their garage or in their garden, and now they don’t,” Murray says. “This product, it works."
The innovation award was handed to Penta5 at the EDC’s 16th annual meeting, held at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota. At the event the Clyde Nixon Business Leadership Award was also given to Gene Matthews, a former Sarasota County Commissioner who founded multiple businesses and launched Little League Baseball in North Port. The meeting also marked the installation of Jim Kuhlman, CEO of First Manatee Bank, as EDC chairman for the coming year. He succeeds Herald-Tribune publisher Pat Dorsey.
Pictured: MosquitoPaQ no-bite pouch.