NC State Researchers Develop Mosquito-Proof Apparel
Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed clothing that shows resistance to mosquitos without the need for insecticide.
The team studied the biting habits of mosquitos that carry diseases like Zika, Dengue fever and yellow fever.
Test subjects in the study wore a “base layer undergarment and a combat shirt initially designed for the military” in a cage with 200 live mosquitos. The researchers registered that the apparel prevented 100% of bites.
The materials they used for the study had varying pore size. The first had a very small pore size, which prevented the mosquito from sticking its mouth through the material. The second, a medium pore size, kept the mosquitos from fitting their heads far enough through the fabric to reach the skin. The third had larger pores but was thick enough that the mosquitos' heads still could not reach the skin.
The only instance of mosquitos making it through the fabric was when researchers tested the base layer in the cage of 200 mosquitos. One subject received seven bites from 200 mosquitos on the back and shoulders, which the researchers attributed to the fabric stretching and deforming. By doubling the material in the shoulders, they once again were able to prevent all bites.
Since the locations where people would want a mosquito-proof shirt would usually be hot and humid, the research team took into account that the garments need to release moisture and trap heat.
"Everyday clothing you wear in the summer is not bite-resistant to mosquitoes,” NC State entomology professor Michael Roe said, according to Science Daily. “Our work has shown that it doesn't have to be that way. Clothes that you wear every day can be made bite-resistant. Ultimately, the idea is to have a model that will cover all possible garments that person would ever want—both for the military as well as for private use."
This has pretty substantial implications for workwear, apparel for the military and consumer-grade apparel, too.
“The fabric is proven to work—that's the great thing we discovered," Andre West, study co-author and associate professor of fashion and textile design at NC State, told Science Daily. "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."
People don’t necessarily want to smell like bug spray when they’re just hanging out in their back yard, hiking or going camping. Having apparel that stands up to pests but also feels comfortable to wear could be huge in the outdoor apparel world.