Attractive toxic sugar baits

Attractive toxic sugar baits or ATSBs are oral insecticides designed to reduce malaria infections by killing the host vector - the mosquito - rather than the parasite itself.[1][2]

A molecule of Boric Acid, the oral toxin used in many ATSB solutions

Attractive toxic sugar baits are manufactured from readily available, inexpensive ingredients in tropical and sub-tropical areas. They broadly consist of an oral toxic component, a sugar component to encourage feeding on the ATSB, and a scented component attractive to mosquitos or other target vectors.[1] Typical ATSBs consist of boric acid as the oral toxin, unrefined cane sugar as the sugar source, and fruit, flowers, seeds and other scented material taken from local plants known to be popular feeding sources for mosquitos.[1][2]

Mosquitoes require sugar as their main source of energy. By mimicking the scent of sugar-providing plants that are naturally attractive to mosquitoes, it is possible to attract the mosquitoes to insecticide-laden traps. The traps can be set next to areas with significant mosquito populations (e.g., reservoirs, roadside drainage ponds and culverts).[1] This use of traps attractive to mosquitoes prevents the need for indiscriminate insecticide spraying.[1][2]

Attractive toxic sugar bait sprayed on vegetation has been successful in controlling Anopheles mosquitoes in outdoor environments. Additionally, indoor ATSB shows promise as a supplement to mosquito nets for controlling mosquitoes.[3] Indoor ATSB constitute a novel application method for insecticide classes that act as stomach poisons and have not hitherto been exploited for mosquito control. Combined with long lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs), indoor use of ATSB has the potential to serve as a strategy for managing insecticide resistance. Mortality rates of indoor ATSB were comparable to LLINs previously tested against the same species in the same area.[3]

Boric acid is only marginally more toxic to most lifeforms than normal table salt, with exposure in humans and other mammals widely regarded as being safe. Its use as an insecticide in malarial control (instead of compounds which demonstrate high levels of mammalian toxicity or carcinogenicity) is thus seen as advantageous.[1][2][4]


  1. Müller, Günter; John C Beier; Sekou F Traore; Mahamoudou B Toure; Mohamed M Traore; Sekou Bah; Seydou Doumbia; Yosef Schlein (21 July 2010). "Successful field trial of attractive toxic sugar bait (ATSB) plant-spraying methods against malaria vectors in the Anopheles gambiae complex in Mali, West Africa". Malaria Journal. 9 (1): 210. doi:10.1186/1475-2875-9-210. PMC 2914067. Retrieved 2013-05-09.
  2. Beier, John; Günter C Müller; Weidong Gu; Kristopher L Arheart; Yosef Schlein (1 Feb 2012). "Attractive toxic sugar bait (ATSB) methods decimate populations of Anopheles malaria vectors in arid environments regardless of the local availability of favoured sugar-source blossoms". Malaria Journal. 11 (1): 31. doi:10.1186/1475-2875-11-31. PMC 3293779. PMID 22297155.
  3. Stewart, Z. P.; Oxborough, R. M.; Tungu, P. K.; Kirby, M. J.; Rowland, M. W.; Irish, S. R. (2013). "Indoor Application of Attractive Toxic Sugar Bait (ATSB) in Combination with Mosquito Nets for Control of Pyrethroid-Resistant Mosquitoes". PLOS ONE. 8 (12): e84168. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0084168.
  4. Office of Pesticide Programs (1993). "Red facts : boric acid" (TXT). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances. Retrieved 2013-05-09.