Mosquitoes are the deadliest animal in the world. Each year more than 3 quarters of a million people die from an illness that mosquitoes caused. So why on Earth would anyone release 20 million more mosquitoes into society? The answer is this: mosquito-borne diseases are difficult to control. The Debug Fresno project plans to release 1 million mosquitoes, once a week, for 20 weeks in 2 Fresno County neighborhoods. These mosquitoes are sterile, non-biting male mosquitoes. They are meant to mate with the female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes – the mosquitoes that carry Zika, dengue, and chikungunya. They are considered sterile because they have been infected with Wolbachia, a bacterium that should cause a low hatch rate in mosquito eggs. Mosquitoes that don’t hatch won’t bite or spread disease.
Mosquito-Borne Disease Eradication Around the World
Will releasing twenty million mosquitoes put a dent in the mosquito population? This is an experiment so there is more research to be done, but mosquito modification seems to be the trend scientists are leaning towards for mosquito disease eradication. This same method was used on a much smaller scale in the Florida keys this spring as well as in Fresno last year.
A different mosquito modification method that has been proposed involves gene modification. A British company called Oxitec released male mosquitoes last year in Florida with a gene that caused its offspring to die within 2 to 3 days of hatching. Gene modification does come with some opposition in the United States, however.
Mosquito gene modification of another type is being studied in the small West African village of Bana, Burkina Faso. This modification is geared towards the elimination of malaria, but not entire mosquito populations. It is far from a perfected method with years of work to be done, but many in the science world are dedicating their lives to the eradication of mosquito-borne illnesses.
This may be more “sciencey” than most of us understand, but we do understand the goal: making the earth safe from the havoc that mosquito-borne illnesses wreak on the human population. It’s a huge undertaking but 725,000 is a huge number of people that are worth saving, so scientists are exploring every avenue. At Mosquito Squad of Central Massachusetts and Mosquito Squad of the North Shore this type of research is very important to us and we are dedicated to keeping you informed of the results. 877-750-0533