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VALLEY VIEW, Ohio — PCT announced Zunex Pest Control, Auburn, Wash., as the winner of our fourth annual vehicle wrap cost. Zunex won with an eye-catching design highlighted by a spider on a shield emerging where the color scheme changes. Josh Zuniga, CEO of Zunex Pest Control, wins $500 from PCT. The competition was sponsored by Oldham Chemicals.
Key to this wrap design is the turquoise, white and black color scheme. “I just love the color turquoise. It's my wedding ring color and I love the matte black,” said Zuniga.
Another must-have for Zuniga was the shield. Zunex Pest Control, a family -owned and -operated business, is primarily a residential pest control firm, so the shield “was about letting people know that our family will take care of their family,” Zuniga said.
In addition to the color scheme and imagery, PCT’s judges liked that this wrap was clean – prominently displaying the phone number and core services (pest, rodent and mosquito). “It was something we thought about a lot,” said Zuniga. “There were certain things we wanted to include but we didn’t want it to be cluttered, so it was a balancing act.”
Zuniga took this concept to 99 Designs, a graphic design service by Vista. For the design program Zunex chose, various graphic designers submitted their ideas and Zuniga selected the designer based on the submissions.
Zunex Pest Control has only been in business for 18 months. Zuniga said investing in high-quality wraps was a strategic decision to boost the brand by (1) showing the public they wouldn’t compromise on quality in any aspect of its brand — from its wrap to the lengths they go to ensure customer satisfaction. “The wrap is a visual reminder that Zunex decided even before day one that we wouldn’t cut corners,” Zuniga said; and (2) the wraps get noticed. “The vibrant blue contrasts with the satin black and we have gotten phone calls from people seeing our vans, enough so that it paid for itself,” he said.
PCT will be running a slideshow of the 10 finalists from this year’s contest.
Mosquitoes that spread Zika, dengue and yellow fever are guided toward their victims by a scent from human skin. The exact composition of that scent has not been identified until now.
A UC Riverside-led team discovered that the combination of carbon dioxide plus two chemicals, 2-ketoglutaric and lactic acids, elicits a scent that causes a mosquito to locate and land on its victim. This chemical cocktail also encourages probing, the use of piercing mouthparts to find blood.
This chemical mixture appears to specifically attract female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, vectors of Zika as well as chikungunya, dengue, and yellow fever viruses. This mosquito originated in Africa, but has spread to tropical and subtropical regions worldwide, including the U.S.
This new research finding, and how the team discovered it, is detailed in the journal Scientific Reports.
“Though others have identified compounds that attract mosquitoes, many of them don’t elicit a strong, rapid effect. This one does,” said Ring Cardé, UCR entomologist.
Mosquitoes use a variety of cues to locate their victims, including carbon dioxide, sight, temperature, and humidity. However, Cardé’s recent research shows skin odors are even more important for pinpointing a biting site.
“We demonstrated that mosquitoes land on visually indistinct targets imbued with these two odors, and these targets aren’t associated with heat or moisture,” Cardé said. “That leaves skin odor as the key guiding factor.”
Given the significance of odor in helping mosquitoes successfully feed on humans, Cardé wanted to discover the exact chemicals that make our scent so potent for the insects. Part of the equation, lactic acid, was identified as one chemical element in the odor cocktail as long ago as 1968.
Since then, several studies have identified that carbon dioxide combined with ammonia, and other chemicals produced by humans also attract these mosquitoes. However, Cardé, who has studied mosquitoes for 26 years, felt these other chemicals were not strong attractants.
“I suspected there was something undiscovered about the chemistry of odors luring the yellow fever mosquito,” Cardé said. “I wanted to nail down the exact blend.”
Methods that chemists typically use to identify these chemicals would not have worked for 2-ketoglutaric acid, Cardé said. Gas chromatography, which separates chemicals by their molecular weight and polarity, would have missed this acid.
“I think that these chemicals may not have been found before because of the complexity of the human odor profile and the minute amounts of these compounds present in sweat,” said chemist Jan Bello, formerly of UCR and now with insect pest control company Provivi.
Searching for mosquito attractors, Cardé turned to Bello, who extracted compounds from the sweat in his own feet. He filled his socks with glass beads and walked around with the beads in his socks for four hours per odor collection.
“Wearing the beads felt almost like a massage, like squeezing stress balls full of sand, but with your feet,” said Bello. ‘The most frustrating part of doing it for a long time is that they would get stuck in between your toes, so it would be uncomfortable after a while.”
The inconvenience was worth the investment. Bello isolated chemicals from the sweat deposited on the sock beads and observed the mosquitoes’ response to those chemicals. In this way, the most active combination emerged.
Future studies are planned to determine whether the same compound is effective for any other mosquitoes, and why there is such variation in how individuals are apt to be bitten. “Some are more attractive than others to these mosquitoes, but no one’s yet established why this is so,” Cardé said.
Though this discovery may not lead to insights for the development of new repellants, the research team is hopeful their discovery can be used to attract, trap, and potentially kill disease-spreading mosquitoes.