Jerusalem : Gardening may serve as a powerful tool against the spread of malaria, say scientists who found that getting rid of certain flowers can help curb mosquito population by cutting off their food supply.
Researchers, including those from Hebrew University in Israel, tested nine villages in the arid Bandiagara district of Mali in West Africa.
They removed the flowers of a shrub – Prosopis juliflora – from three villages where it had been common.
These were compared with three others where the P juliflora was allowed to remain, and three more where it had never appeared at all.
They set light traps around all the villages to catch mosquitoes so they could see if the “gardening” had helped cull the insects.
Researchers found that villages where they removed the flowers saw mosquito numbers collected in the traps fall – the total number of mosquitoes across these villages decreased by nearly 60 per cent after removal of the flowers, ‘BBC News’ reported.
The number of old female mosquitoes dropped to similar levels recorded in the three villages without any of the shrubs. Researchers believe the mosquitoes died of starvation.
The female Anopheles mosquitoes carry the malaria parasite in their salivary glands and pass it on to people when they bite and draw blood.
The infected person can then infect other younger, biting, female mosquitoes – which are looking for a rich blood meal as they become fertile and make eggs – because their blood now contains the parasite.
The study was published in the journal Malaria Research.