A beautiful island vacation with no mosquito bites – and no chemicals

Kunfunadhoo Island
An overwater bungalow at Soneva Fushi. Sandro Bruecklmeier/Courtesy Soneva Fushi

Anybody who has ever attempted to relax on a peaceful beach or picturesque trek only to have their holiday marred by a swarm of mosquitoes knows how disruptive even a tiny bug can be.

However, because they may spread diseases like dengue, zika, and malaria, mosquitoes can be more than just a nuisance. The exclusive Kunfunadhoo Island in the Maldives is home to Soneva Fushi, a resort that has been battling these pests for years.

The most successful remedy they’ve discovered has significantly reduced the number of mosquitoes while also reviving the island’s tropical flora and fauna.

Soneva has teamed up with Biogents, a firm based in Germany that makes mosquito traps that use eco-friendly attractants.

We had been investigating non-chemical methods of controlling mosquitoes, stated Arnfinn Oines, the director of social and environmental awareness at Soneva.

The area has long struggled with a mosquito problem, which is exacerbated by the region’s May to November monsoon season.

They tried a number of strategies, but each had its own set of difficulties, such as using different kinds of traps and trying to get rid of mosquito breeding sites.

According to Oines, another strategy for dealing with flying pests includes “hot fogging and mist blowing,” which may be uncomfortable for both hosts and guests and isn’t very accurate at applying insecticides to target only the bugs. Despite their best efforts to employ these strategies covertly, he claimed that they would unavoidably annoy visitors.

Kunfunadhoo Island
A Biogents-created mosquito trap at Soneva Fushi. Courtesy Soneva Fushi

Furthermore, these methods are usually limited to getting rid of adult mosquitoes. Furthermore, Oines pointed out that eventually, even those grow resistant to the poisons, making them useless.

However, Kunfunadhoo Island’s abundance of other insects doesn’t become resistant. Consequently, populations of beetles, bumblebees, dragonflies, and butterflies all showed a discernible decline.

In 2019, Soneva used two distinct kinds of traps—more than 500 total—spread over the island to test the Biogents system for the first time. According to Oines, the first kind, known as the BG-GAT, is a passive trap designed for tiger mosquitoes that have previously bitten someone and are looking for a spot to lay eggs.

The second kind, the BG-Mosquitaire CO2, uses lactic acid to simulate human skin along with carbon dioxide produced by fermentation of yeast and sugar to draw in mosquitoes that are looking for blood.

The BG-Mosquitaire CO2 is special and efficient because it uses CO2 and the odor of perspiration to simulate humans, the man stated. In essence, the gadgets attract and hold bugs by having a human-like fragrance and “breath.” The traps were capturing thousands of mosquitoes every day during the first few weeks of operation.

Employees at the resort have received training on mosquito ecology in addition to employing the traps. Now that stagnant water is required for the bugs to breed, the Soneva crew inspects the site to find and remove items like tarps, fallen coconut shells, and other potential sources of moisture.

Soneva claims that the pest-combatting program has been successful.

The island’s mosquito population dropped dramatically, according to the resort, by up to 98% in the first year.

We counted the mosquitoes that were caught every day; as the numbers decreased, the counting definitely became easier, adds Oines. Repeat visitors who come back year after year expressed their gratitude to us, pointing out the difference.

Long-term usage of the Biogents trap system has also shown it to be quite effective; there is no need to worry about the bugs growing resistant to the treatment. More good news: the native insects of the Maldives are thriving once more once the pesticides are stopped.

More fruits and insects also translate into more birds visiting the shores of Kunfunadhoo and fireflies are once again spotted at night, according to Oines, who also notes that “these natural pollinators are now back in abundance, which means there are more flowers, more fruits, and more produce.”

Given the resort’s history, the increase in biodiversity and the environmentally friendly and sustainable transportation techniques employed make sense. Sonu and Eva Shivdasani established Soneva Fushi in 1995 with a ground-breaking dedication to environmental sustainability. Because of their vision, the couple was one of the first in the area to establish programs like trash reduction, recycling, and energy conservation.

Soneva Fushi is still a leading example of sustainable luxury in the hotel industry today. Its environmental initiatives include dangerous chemical-free pest control, a zero-waste mindset, and an inventive coral restoration program.

Soneva hopes to become the first mosquito-free island in the Maldives by collaborating with Biogents to employ environmentally friendly insect extermination techniques. However, they wish not to be the sole ones.

The hotel business has taught staff members how to utilize mosquito traps and given insect traps to Parliament in Malé, the capital of the nation.

Similar outcomes have also been achieved by the Biogents system’s implementation at Soneva Jani, the brand’s resort located in the adjacent Noonu Atoll on the island of Medhufaru. Additionally, they set up traps at their upcoming resort, Soneva Secret, which is scheduled to open in early 2024, and over a period of several months, they have not detected a single mosquito.

According to Oines, this gives us hope that we can open a resort free of mosquitoes in the new year. We’ve also observed other resorts doing the same. If the Maldives could all follow suit, it would be beautiful.

Credits: CNN

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