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Sunday, Dec 15, 2019

New Larvicide: Plant-based solution may tackle mosquitoes

ZSI has teamed up with a Kolkata-based company, Bio Guard Eco Solutions, to manufacture the product and market it.

kolkata Updated: Nov 26, 2019 02:55 IST
Joydeep Thakur
Joydeep Thakur
Hindustan Times, Kolkata

Scientists from the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) have developed a plant-based mosquito larvicide, claimed to be the first-of-its-kind in the country and it will help control the menace of mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue, malaria and chikunguniya, among others, researchers said on Monday.

“This is probably the first mosquito larvicide that has been developed from plant-based products. It will help minimize the synthetic and chemical insecticides in mosquito control. It is totally safe for humans and the environment, as it is a 100% plant extract-based product,” said Kailash Chandra, director of ZSI, India’s apex organisation on animal taxonomy under the Union ministry of environment and forest.

The product has been developed from oils from two plants: eucalyptus and pine. It took scientists nearly one and half years to develop the formula, he said.

ZSI has teamed up with a Kolkata-based company, Bio Guard Eco Solutions, to manufacture the product and market it. The team has already applied for a patent for the product. The product costs R1,260 per litre, excluding Goods and Services Tax. One litre can be diluted up to 20 times with water.

“Earlier plant-based products, such as those derived from Neem, were primarily mosquito repellents. They don’t kill larvae. All larvicides available in the market are chemical-based. This product, which has been invented with technical knowhow of ZSI scientists, will not just kill the larvae but also help repel mosquitoes when sprayed,” said MG Dalmia, CEO of the Kolkata-based firm.

DS Suman, a scientist with ZSI who led the team, said, “We have tested this in both laboratory and field. It has been able to kill almost 100% of the larvae. The larval growth is inhibited, thereby killing it.”

Civic bodies in India at present use chemical insecticides such as BTI (Bacillus thuringiensis serotype israelensis), diflubenzuron and temephose, among others, to control mosquito population.

“Even though researchers had earlier stated that some plant-based products have the potential to be developed as mosquito larvicides, none is available in the market till date. We use chemicals. If any new larvicide is introduced, we would need a go ahead from the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme [which functions under the Union government] before using it,” said Debasish Biswas, chief vector control officer of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.

It will take some time before civic bodies in India can start using the product as they would require the final go-ahead from the Union ministry of health and family welfare.

“For any such insecticide or larvicide to be used in vector-borne disease control programme, it first has to go to the technical advisory committee under the ministry of health and family welfare. Several field trials are conducted; after which it is referred to the central insecticide board. The final approval comes from the ministry of health and family welfare,” said a senior officer with the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), who did not want to be named.