Part of being Singaporean is having to deal with the mozzies – mosquitoes ranging from your typical garden-variety to the more infamous Aedes mosquitoes. With last year’s Zika outbreaks and an increasing number of dengue cases, our sunny island has been looking for new ways to combat the mosquito menace. These range from identifying areas most at risk using data and machine learning, to releasing bacteria-carrying male mosquitoes that mate with females to produce eggs that do not hatch.
Now in an effort to prevent illnesses and protect communities, Manulife Singapore has taken an unexpected new step in the fight against mosquitoes with the Life Saving Pots – the world’s first plant pots that double as mosquito repellents.
How so? Well, most Singapore ads would have taught you that mosquitoes need stagnant pools of water to breed in, such as those found in our overwatered plant pots. This is where the Life Saving Pots do their magic: by being coated in a special paint that contains permethrin, a non-toxic insecticide that repels mosquitoes – that has been tested to repel up to 80% of mosquitoes, including Aedes mosquitoes, which carries dengue and Zika viruses.
The paint works by disrupting the nervous systems of mosquitoes, knocking them unconscious when they attempt to land on the plant pots. Thus, effectively preventing mosquitoes from turning our homes into their own too.
Kwek-Perroy Li Choo, Chief Customer Officer of Manulife Singapore says, “Given our climate and population density, Singapore is uniquely vulnerable to mosquito-borne diseases. We believe in encouraging our customers to actively take precautions with their health. We wanted to get to the root of the problem by preventing the mosquitoes from breeding in homes in the first place. The creation of these Life Saving Pots is a simple and elegant solution that helps Singaporeans to keep their homes safe.”
In-tandem with TBWA\Singapore, they’ve handcrafted plant pots in three different sizes with three unique designs. The creation melds art, age-old traditions, and technology – all while providing the functionality of keeping them pesky mozzies at bay.
The pots are first fired at The Dragon Kiln, one of the last surviving wood-fire brick kilns in Singapore. The ashes from the wood react to create unpredictable finishes that make each pot one-of-a-kind, a unique characteristic apart from most modern-day gas and electric kilns. Once cooled, they are then layered with two coats of the mosquito-repelling paint.
The finishing touches are then made by the traditional ceramic artist, Shee Bee Heo, formally trained at Ming Village Ceramics. Over several months, she painstakingly paints the designs onto each pot by hand – her swift and elegant ink strokes attesting to her over 30 years of experience and dedication in ceramics and traditional Chinese painting.
You may think that the pots are merely intricately painted, traditional Chinese-style works of art. But look closer! The delicate flowers upon the long, fine branches depict fallen mosquitoes, with their upturned wings resembling petals.
With an arsenal of these Life Saving Pots in hand, Manulife Singapore brought together their staff to distribute them to senior communities in Singapore’s Punggol neighbourhood. Accompanying them, Ms Sun Xueling, Member of Parliament, Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, who provided advice to her fellow residents of in their Punggol neighbourhood, who have been affected by dengue and Zika outbreaks in recent years.
Fancy one yourself? Manulife Singapore is hosting a contest on its Facebook page here to give away some of their Life Saving Pots to you!