Researchers found that Anopheles arabiensis, a type of mosquito species that transmit malaria, avoids chickens whenever they are searching for creatures to drink blood on.
So, the researchers agree that one way of protecting yourself and your family against malaria is to have a chicken next to your bed as you sleep.
Why are Chickens Spared?
Scientists have discovered that mosquitoes that transmit malaria make sure they avoid some animals, including chickens. They do this by using their sharp sense of smell. The species, such as the chickens, have odors that repel mosquitoes. Since these insects stay away from chickens, they could offer protection to humans who are at risk of acquiring malaria. It makes sense to have them at your bedside, especially because malaria-transmitting mosquitoes attack at night.
Chickens, unlike humans and other animals, such as cattle, sheep, and goats, are a non-host species for the biting insects. The mosquitoes found a natural way of determining which ones are food for them and which ones are not. The scientists studied how the mosquitoes did this by first gathering data regarding the population of both the humans and the domestic animals in a total of three villages in Ethiopia. The researchers also collected mosquitoes that already fed. They used those insects to determine the source of blood that they fed on. After their research: they discovered the following:
- The mosquitoes that carry malaria prefer human blood over the animals’ blood whenever they are indoors.
- The mosquitoes feed on goats, sheep, and cattle whenever they are outdoors.
- Whether they are indoors or outdoors, the mosquitoes always avoid chickens.
Because of these findings, the scientists collected feathers and other particles from species to analyze their odor. They then used the smells of the chicken feathers in the traps that they made for the mosquitoes. The traps were put in 11 houses for exactly 11 days. Each house contained one volunteer who was between 27 and 36 years old and he or she would sleep under a bed net with no treatment.
After 11 days, the scientists found that fewer mosquitoes were in the traps that had the chicken smells than those traps with no treatment. The same repellent effect was achieved when there was a living chicken suspended in a cage next to the mosquito trap. Because mosquitoes have become resistant to some pesticides, using chickens is one of the methods of repelling the insects that is not only inexpensive, but proven by science to be quite effective.