Coffee Grounds for Mosquito Control

RECYCLE BIODEGRADABLE coffee grounds and simultaneously knockdown mosquitoes vectoring dengue, yellow fever, West Nile virus, malaria and other diseases. Hermione Bicudo at Universidade Estadual Paulista in Sao Paulo, Brazil, has been working towards that goal since the early 1980s. Mosquito control alternatives are needed, as mosquitoes are rapid, prolific breeders that rapidly develop resistance to pyrethroid, organophosphate and other types of insecticides.

Bicudo’s lab began studying caffeine effects on Drosophila fruit flies in the early 1980s. Drosophila fruit flies are a model insect widely used from the early twentieth century to unravel the mysteries of inheritance and genetics. Caffeine has been used relatively safely for centuries, and is found in medicines, cosmetics and food and beverages like coffee, tea, guarana and chocolate. Used coffee grounds are a ubiquitous waste product in modern caffeinated societies.

A resurgence of yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti, in Brazil prompted Bicudo’s lab to test whether deleterious caffeine effects on Drosophila fruit flies (e.g. less frequent mating, less egg laying capacity, shorter life spans) might also slow mosquito population growth. Approximately four full soup spoons of used coffee grounds in a 250 mL glass of water killed 100% of aquatic mosquito larvae. This translated into fewer adult mosquitoes (the biting, blood-sucking stage) and less new mosquito egg laying (thus, lower mosquito populations over time). Used coffee grounds also have fertilizer value for plants, and can be dusted onto Bromeliads and other garden plants (possibly also puddles, ponds, tree holes, used tire breeding sites, etc.) where accumulated water forms potential mosquito breeding sites.

In contrast to other researchers, Bicuda’s lab found that caffeine solutions became more effective against mosquitoes with age. Day-old caffeine solutions took 20 days to kill 100% of mosquito larave; 25-day old caffeine solutions killed 100% of mosquito larvae in 1 day. Combined with elimination of mosquito breeding sites, used coffee grounds or caffeine solutions could prove very useful in IPM (integrated pest management) programs to slow pesticide resistance and reduce mosquito breeding.

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12 Responses to Coffee Grounds for Mosquito Control

  1. joelg5 says:

    Professor Hermione Bicudo has prepared a summary on the biology of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, along with more information on community-wide control measures including the use of coffee grounds and garden measures to eliminate breeding sites. The summary and a Power Point presentation (link to click at end) can be downloaded from the university web site:

    http://www.ibilce.unesp.br/dengue/ingles.php
    (English language version)

    http://www.ibilce.unesp.br/dengue/index.php
    (Portuguese version)

    http://www.ibilce.unesp.br/dengue/espanhol.php
    (Spanish version)

    http://www.ibilce.unesp.br/dengue/ingles.ppt
    (English Power Point slides)

  2. dancharles45 says:

    I never knew coffee grounds acted as mosquito control. I guess the larvae become over caffeinated, become depressed, and refuse to go on with life. I’ll have to try this in my pond during the warmer months. Between coffee grounds and getting another mosquito killing device, like a Mosquito Magnet.

  3. Dante Menitz says:

    I am continuously invstigating online for articles that can assist me. Thanks!

  4. Faz says:

    Reblogged this on Fazl's Blah and commented:
    Amazing coffee..

    Joelg replies: Had not heard of reblogging before, so learned something new and was intrigued by your blog archives, Fazl. Glad you liked this blog post: eHow also recently cited it. Coffee grounds and mosquito control work in Brazil and Richard Feynman’s Non-toxic Ant Ferry (getting rid of ants without killing them) are probably the two most popular Biocontrol Beat posts in terms of search engine hits. Internet is great for allowing sharing of this kind…

    http://fazlblah.wordpress.com/2012/04/07/man-alive/#more-430

    I thought this review of old book was great. Oddly enough I was just reading journal articles on Internet about probiotics, specifically lactic acid bacteria from fermentation being used for everything from food preservation to combating harmful gut bacteria, which are forms of Biocontrol.

  5. Why should i o it says:

    Thanks for the great article..

  6. You are so interesting! I do not think I have read something like that before. So wonderful to discover somebody with unique thoughts on this subject. Really.. thank you for starting this up. This web site is something that’s needed on the web, someone with some originality!

  7. Roxanne says:

    Write more, thats all I have to say. It appears that you relied on some reputable sources to make your point.
    You definitely know what you’re talking about.

  8. panagirl says:

    Does anyone knows if the coffee grounds will be harmful for other wild animals like birds, squirrels etc.

    • joelg5 says:

      A very good question, and one with so many variables that there may be no definitive answer that is absolute. I suspect you would have to extrapolate from studies with caged laboratory animals; and that would make for an interesting academic thesis topic. Coffee grounds have been part of organic gardening lore for a long time, and I do not recall ever coming across a report on wild animals seeking them out (which does not mean such observations do not exist, or that wild animals in a choice environment would find coffee grounds a palatable food source). I suppose you could do a simple choice test for palatability by mixing a small quantity of coffee grounds with bird seed and placing it next to pure bird seed and pure coffee grounds, and then weigh each to see how much gets eaten. That would certainly be a starting point. With all the surveillance camera technology available, you could even capture video to analyze the response of wild animals to the coffee grounds.

  9. panagirl says:

    Thanks so much joelg5. I’ll try your suggestion went the weather gets warmer again.Hopefully I won’t see any hyper birds out there with all that caffeine :)

    • joelg5 says:

      I hope you will publish your scientific results, panagirl. Birds eating seeds and seedlings are a problem on some farms, and it would be interesting if coffee grounds turned out to be a relatively safe deterrent; I think once a year as part of a bird’s diet would be very different than year-round; and I wonder about all those birds in rainforest coffee plantations, as they are no doubt eating insects like the coffee borers which eat coffee beans and are thereby getting dosed. Probably tons of coffee grounds going to waste around the world that could be put to some useful purpose.

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