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Midge Laser

A device for tracking and zapping mosquitoes within a Cartesian space using sound and lasers.
  (+49, -2)(+49, -2)(+49, -2)
(+49, -2)
  [vote for,

The situation: There you are, lying in your bed, all tucked up, eyes closed, and ready to pop off for the night when, as if from far far away, you hear that dreaded sound...
You slap your neck, hoping to have caught the errant blood sucker, but are rewarded with nothing but silence
Aha, it's off again! A hand raises, ready to strike
A moment of silence....
the darned thing is off again!

It's enough to drive someone completely mad. Not to mention the inconvenience of being covered in failed slap-marks as you try to defend against your minuscule foe, and least of all, the inevitable rash of bite marks discovered the following morning, a testament only to the fine feast you have provided to the impertinent needleheads.

Yes, you can spray the room with enough DDT to spay a bear, you can slather yourself with insect repellent, and hope for the best, you can turn all the lights on and go hunting in your pyjamas with a rolled up newspaper - or, you can simply pre-install and then activate this device with the simplest of voice-activated commands:


Uttering the command for tracking mode activates a set of finely tuned microphones set at various positions in the corners of your room. Tuned to the buzz frequency of a range of flying annoyances, they listen for the telltale "mmrrrrrrrrrrrr" of an intruding mosquito, and (after an initial setup/configuration routine has been run) are able to triangulate its position to literally within a gnat's whisker.

This is when the lasers come into play.

Aimed using tiny movements of inlaid mirrors, a projected beam of laser light illuminates the now fated mosquito as it tracks around the room, at the precise intersection of 3 or more beams of imminent doom.

(Dry ice can be optionally squirted into the room at this point to make it look even cooler.)

Now, the recumbent human can simply watch the progress of the incoming mosquito as it unwittingly sniffs out its next meal - and is able to opt to dispatch of it his/herself in the tried and tested newspaper method, or they can simply utter the next command in the voice activated sequence.


At this command, the gentle tracking laser beams are replaced with much higher energy versions which, for a split second, deliver just enough energy, from a number of separate points simultaneously, to vaporise the majority of the mosquito in a flash of light and, as the smoking remainders spiral down to the floor, leave just the faintest smell of burnt hair.

Other modes include "AUTO", "DISCO" (comes with a free jar of fruit flies/mayflies or various other midgery) and "DEMO" where a specially modified ping-pong, or rubber-ball (emitting a pre-defined, specific frequency) is thrown about the place.

zen_tom, Jan 08 2006

The power head for a 45 watt laser. http://www.lasersur...asers/camb_leea.jpg
They want only $25K for it! [bristolz, Jan 09 2006]

150mW green laser http://www.jackoneill.com/balloons.wmv
This gives some idea of how powerful a 20 watt laser is as this is only 150mW. Be sure to watch the Windows .wmv video of the 150mW green laser in use. [bristolz, Jan 09 2006]

One from the vaults... http://www.junkpile...nsect%20Incinerator
[DukeEuphoria, Apr 05 2006]

[pashute]'s mosquito tracker system mosquito_20tracker_20system
The tracking system you describe albeit without an additional disposal method. [hidden truths, May 21 2006]

[duroncrush]'s Laser Fly Swatter Laser_20Fly_20Swatter
The elimination method, albeit without an adequate tracking system. [hidden truths, May 21 2006]

Maybe blinding them would eb enough? http://www.ajtmh.or...nt/abstract/3/1/160
For TseTse Flies the Thermoreceptors are what triggers biting... [loonquawl, Jan 30 2009]

Mosquito hunting http://www.youtube....watch?v=ZcACaW9vwg4
The joys and dangerous of hunting mosquitos in the wild. [Smurfsahoy, Feb 18 2009]

Mosquito Laser - Baked http://www.telegrap...gainst-malaria.html
[Smurfsahoy, Mar 16 2009]

Mosquito Laser - Baked http://www.thestar....gy-to-zap-mosquitos
and there's a video [rcarty, Feb 14 2010]

http://news.cnet.co..._3-10452992-71.html [rcarty, Feb 14 2010]

http://intellectualventureslab.com/?p=653 [rcarty, Feb 14 2010]

HackADay: Die bloodsuckers – pew pew http://hackaday.com...oodsuckers-pew-pew/
"In a bid to combat malaria, Intellectual Ventures is developing a method of killing mosquitoes with lasers." [Dub, Mar 25 2010]

TED:Nathan Myhrvold: Could this laser zap malaria? http://www.ted.com/...ly&utm_medium=email
[Dub, May 11 2010]

Wall Street Journal: Rocket Scientists Shoot Down Mosquitoes With Lasers http://online.wsj.c....html?mod=yhoofront
[Dub, May 11 2010]

Photonic Fence http://www.intellec...work/photonic-fence
Not quite baked, but in the oven. [Wrongfellow, Jun 29 2017]


       yup, brilliant, this was one of the ideas that passed through my mind in the early hours this morning when the ****ers were keeping me awake.

I also thought that perhaps there might need to be some sort of optical recognition thing so the lasers were never fired in the direction of humans, cats and the like.
neilp, Jan 08 2006

       //mmrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.......// No fair! Once reminded of this sound I'm likely to buy anything that claims to make it go away.   

       I don't hear it now, though. Ahhh, winter.
Shz, Jan 09 2006

       Bun bun bun.   

       Anything to keep those demonic things away.   

       Though, from what I remember of Scotland, even this might not be able to cope with the volume of midges they have there.
dbmag9, Jan 09 2006

       I wonder how much power would be needed for such an instantaneous kill.   

       Maybe you can periodically scan the whole room-- "flashing" it if you will--so no need for an elaborate tracking system. You'd need to leave the room.
bristolz, Jan 09 2006

       And come back to a charred bed.   

       I think one of the main coolness factors of the whole idea is the voice recognition commands.
dbmag9, Jan 09 2006

       <wild guess caution>I just looked around to see how big a midge is. Found several different brands, I'm going to try a 3 mm long midge. With a length/diameter aspect ration of, say, 4:1, that gives a midge volume of a bit bigger than 1.6 cubic mm. Now I'm going to assume that if you can get it to 100 C, it's going to die. (Note that if you want a satisfying "pop", you'll need to increase this calculation to take into account the heat of vaporization, plus a pressure-strain failure value for the midge's exoskeleton, and the extra energy to go to the vapor point at the resulting raised pressure. It's 3:30 in the morning, I ain't doing that.) So if you start from a comfortable 25 C, the delta-T is about 75K, and if I assume that the little bugger is mostly water with a specific heat of 1 cal/(gram*K), he's going to require about 0.13 calories of heat. Assuming a somewhat dark bug with an albedo of about 0.4, he'll absorb about 60% of incoming radiation, thus 0.21 calories need to be delivered. That's about 0.88 joules. If you get 1/12 second in which to blast him (which is a pretty long time, I'm gonna be optimistic about your tracking) that's pretty close to 10 watts per an area of the beam which will hit the midge. Further assuming a worst case scenario of a long-axis shot, you've only got about .44 mm^2 of midge target cross section, so that would only occupy 14% of a 2 mm diameter beam; thus your total output power to said beam would be in the range of 60 watts.
lurch, Jan 09 2006

       Three 20 watt lasers? Holy hell. I'll just swat them, thanks.
bristolz, Jan 09 2006

       Alternatively, up the power of the targeting lasers and cook them more slowly. [+]
st3f, Jan 09 2006

       Just reviewing - forgot to mention, I'm assuming the kill lasers are going to be infrared for max energy transfer. And as [bristolz] just reminded me, we've got three lasers, where I was simplifying to a single beam. That means that at least two beams are going to be coming at the side of the fuselage, rather than up the empennage; brings the power requirement down to 21 watts total, or three 7-watt infrared lasers.   

       I've got several other assumptions that I've picked out at maxima/minima, but I think that they cancel to the point where I'm at least order-of-magnitude ballpark.
lurch, Jan 09 2006

       Thanks for those calculations [lurch]! It kind of puts the whole SDI project into perspective.   

       I've just seen a 17W laser on eBay for about $300, but probably wouldn't want to be in the same room if it were ever turned on.   

       Remember, while a pop (or even a small fizz) would be nice, all we need to do is wing the creature for the system to be effective.   

       Failing that, the tracking function would help with either swatting, or directing chemicals at them.   

       3 lasers/tracking points would be the minimum configuration required, but I imagine that more units would have the advantages of
a) requiring lower powered individual lasers
and b) having improved tracking capabilities.

       Alternately, we could install the system in a house with a nice big 30W laser sitting up in the loft, and pipe the beams out via fiber-optic cable to various units installed throughout the property (still on a minimum 3 per room ratio)   

       Systems like this could not only be used for bug-popping, but might form the backbone of laser guided robot control systems, dust vaporising sweeps, surface disinfection, plain old precision pizza slicing, or potentially extreme cigar/cigarette ignition, for the brave.
zen_tom, Jan 09 2006

       Why wait until they're inside? Fit this system to the outside of your house and you'd benefit from undisturbed sleep (and no smell of fried midge) and you can sit outside after dark without getting bitten. In fact, taken to the logical conclusion, fit stand alone systems in places where midges breed and you could commit mass midgicide. Harder to do the tracking and you'd have to filter out 'friendly' bugs, but should be doable.   

       'The Midge Laser - for when you absolutely, positively have to kill every midge in the room'!
Texbinder, Jan 09 2006

       I really like this idea - what if, instead of lasers we user some kind of rail gun with tiny needles as projectiles?
Jinbish, Jan 09 2006

       *Boom* *fweeeeee* *THUMP!!*   

       "Oh, damn! This thing's measured in meters, not feet...Honey, can you clean the wall?"
shapu, Jan 09 2006

       The thing that has always baffled me is the way one can be entierly asleep and yet jolted rudely out of one's slumbers by this tiny noise. Survival instict I guess. This is a fabulous idea. My precious bodily fluids thank you. +
Yarr, Jan 09 2006

       [+++] Very nice one.   

       Imagining a moskeeter with 3 small red dots converging on his forehead..., and an "oh shit!" look on his face!   

       Doable with just 1 bug in the room. Very hard with 6 or 12.   

       The "Albedo Mosquito": And, I wouldn't be surprised if those buggers would evolve reflective wings/bodies.
sophocles, Jan 09 2006

       Idea of the year. A low impact award at this time, but like a well-behaved child, it'll appreciate. Nice one [tom]! [+].
DocBrown, Jan 09 2006

       Fantastic. [+] What more can be said, except that while reading this I immediatly envisioned a german fighter plane caught hopelessly in the beams of tracking spotlights. Why? I don't know.
Mr Phase, Jan 09 2006

       [lurch], it's not clear to me why the total power requirements dropped for three lasers vs one.   

       I agree that IR lasers can better deliver the power but also think that there should be parallel <5mW visible spectrum lasers for both the visual aspects and for safety. Living with class IV IR lasers isn't the safest idea but, at least if you can have some visual indication of their whereabouts it might help.   

       Does this setup incur the total protonic reversal problem if the streams are crossed?
bristolz, Jan 09 2006

       Don't cross the streams [bris]. It would be bad.
DocBrown, Jan 09 2006

       I wonder if lasers are the best solution for this. Perhaps regular light bulbs with finely tuned optics might be more practical and less dangerous. Sure, I still wouldn't walk around humming with this setup, but you wouldn't go around blinding yourself with a poorly placed mirror.
Worldgineer, Jan 09 2006

       [bristolz] - re reduced power requirements. I figured that the bug is so tiny that even with an almost unreasonably small beam confinement, most of the energy is going to miss. The effect is worst, as I indicated, when the cross-section is smallest, i.e., head-on or up-the-kilt. When using three beams, the worst case is that one beam is end-on, so at least two beams are able to have a much higher incidence fraction on the bug. My guess for the midge to be four times as long as wide means that on those two beams, the bug will intersect a bit less than four times the energy flux. Less wasted, less needed.
lurch, Jan 09 2006

       Speed of sound in air + average speed of a gnat (North American or European?) = sophisticated tracking algorithm would be required   

       Especially as high frequency (low amplitude) midge/gnat buzz doesn't travel very far...and their erratic flying habits.   

       Sticky (insecticide laced) Bun for the idea, tho.
Dub, Jan 09 2006

       "Umm... I'm sorry, Teacher, but a midge landed on my homework."
lurch, Jan 10 2006

       The sadist's verbal command "WOUND". Only one of the primary devices fires just singing a side warning the others not to return.
Seven, Jan 10 2006

       [UnaBubba] Good point - Add safety interlock to lavatory door, and must remember to turn it off when (un-)zipping fly.   

       //MEDIC !!//
Dub, Jan 10 2006

       mmmmmrmrrmrmmm TRACK .... KILL!   


bungston, Jan 10 2006

       On a more serious note, perhaps this same thing could be accomplished more safely with dishes used to focus sound. I propose that several dishes, appropriately shaped, could focus sound waves to intersect at a point in space and produce - whats the opposite of destructive interference - err . big energy! The mosquito would fall, stunned. It would get up again later, of course, but that is part of the fun.
bungston, Jan 10 2006

       Hate to be the party pooper here, but mosquitos that are audible are male and therefore not carriers of all them dreaded diseases. Leave 'em be. You want to kill the silent ones - the dreaded FEMALES! (gad- I made a funny oxymoron :: silent females:: ) Anywho your device is useless except for knocking out the audible pests. A pet bat is a good idea.
Willie333, Jan 10 2006

       [bungston] Constructive interference. Or, in this case, destructive constructive interference.   

       Are you proposing to reflect the mosquito's own buzz sound back in an annoying manner? That's some beautiful irony there.
Worldgineer, Jan 10 2006

       I was actually going to use the bass track from "Baby Got Back".
bungston, Jan 10 2006

       I'm not buying the "people can't hear female mosquitos" thing.
bristolz, Jan 10 2006

       It's the female mosquitos that 'bite', so here's an experiment: When you hear the 'evil parasite closing in on a victim' alarm (//mmrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr...//), do nothing, and see if you get bitten.
Shz, Jan 10 2006

       I know male mosquitos can hear female mosquitos.
bristolz, Jan 10 2006

       Mosquitos aren't a significant food source for bats.
bristolz, Jan 10 2006

       I'd like a pet bat.
Trickytracks, Jan 11 2006

       Ash or aluminum?
bristolz, Jan 11 2006

       Rather than outright killing, maybe you could play the long game and simply heat 'em enough to sterilise them.
Great numbers work there, [lurch]
coprocephalous, Apr 06 2006

zen_tom, Apr 06 2006

Letsbuildafort, May 21 2006

       Sorry to rain on the parade, but between the two linked ideas, this is pretty redundant (Neither of which seems enough to justify a MFD but this seems more like 'new ideas via concatenation, than an individual idea). The first covers everything up until the actual death, and the second covers that. It's much better written than both though.
hidden truths, May 21 2006

       10 um wavelength infrared lasers would exactly match the respose of the thermo sensors on the mosquitos antennas. Pulsing in the beam might blind the critters.
loonquawl, Jan 30 2009

       Any small victory in the war gets my vote.
wagster, Jan 30 2009

       There's nothing more dangerous than a wounded mosquito...   

       Seriously, how has nobody posted this [link]? It's a matter of basic public education, people
Smurfsahoy, Feb 18 2009

       Determining how much laser power it takes to kill a mosquito would make an interesting science fair project.   

       "Many mosquitos were harmed in this experiment."
nomocrow, Feb 18 2009

       Turns out this exact idea is currently under development by the same people who did the Star Wars missile defense project. See link.
Smurfsahoy, Mar 16 2009


       9 mins in, onwards {But it's all worth watching}
Dub, May 11 2010

       One of the best TED's ever! thanks for posting
simonj, May 12 2010

       Can I also suggest the Midge Ure laser? for shooting down horrid 80's pop stars
simonj, May 12 2010


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