Experiments by Swedish and Ethiopian researchers disclosed that mosquitoes avoid residences which consist of a live chicken put in a cage.
If you are looking for a natural way to avoid being bitten by a mosquito, sleeping next to a live chicken might help, scientists say.
Experiments by Swedish and Ethiopian scientists revealed that mosquitoes steer clear of homes which contain a live chicken suspended in a cage.
The researchers found out that Anopheles arabiensis – one of the main species that transmits malaria in sub-Saharan Africa – avoids chickens when looking for hosts to feed on.
According to the researchers, mosquitoes are wary of chickens because the birds eat the insects, and their blood is not nutritious enough to be worth the taking the risk.
To test the theory, volunteers slept in beds surrounded by mosquito nets.
They later realised that the mosquitoes steered clear of their room when a cage containing a live chicken, or its feathers, was suspended outside the bed.
The discovery, published in the Malaria Journal, could help save the lives some of the 3.2 billion people at risk of malaria.
Professor Richard Ignell, of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, said: “We were surprised to find that malaria mosquitoes are repelled by the odours emitted by chickens.
“The difference between this repellent and ones on the market is it acts on a very large scale. Most repellents only work after a mosquito lands on you but we know that this can cut populations by up to 95 per cent throughout an entire house, so it’s very efficient.
“It really creates an odour bubble which stops the mosquitoes coming near, so it can stop the spread of malaria.”
When asked if it could work to prevent Zika, Ignell said: “I think it should. We haven’t tested it on other mosquitoes but there are lots of varieties which won’t feed on chickens and so would be repelled.
“Chickens actually feed on mosquitoes so the insects keep their distances. Their blood is also not very nutritious so the insects have no need to come near.
“This study shows for the first time that malaria mosquitoes actively avoid feeding on certain animal species, and that this behaviour is regulated through odour cues,” he added.