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How Scientists are Helping Mosquitoes Terminate Each Other

Mosquitos in the News

The Scientist

During the week of April 18, 2017, in an effort to suppress mosquito populations, a Kentucky company, Mosquito Mate, released 20,000 Wolbachia-infected male mosquitoes in the Florida Keys. When Wolbachia-infected males mate with female mosquitoes the bacteria sterilize the female’s eggs reducing mosquito populations across the state.

Mosquito Mate plans to continue the field test by releasing 40,000 Wolbachia-infected mosquitos per week for a total of 12 weeks throughout the Florida Keys area. This field test will end early July 2017.

ABC News

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said that of the 90,000 mosquitos tested this year not one has been found with Zika. Scientists say there is no outbreak of Zika at this time.

Oxitec has been field testing genetically modified mosquitoes in the Cayman Islands and Brazil. Florida Key West is said to be the open door to mosquito infestation in the USA and Oxitec would like to begin field testing as soon as possible. This would seem the most likely area to target. However, efforts to release GMO mosquitoes into the Florida Key West area have been opposed and postponed due to the grass-roots opposition of concerned residents.

Mosquitoes are injected with two genes. One is a self-limiting gene and the other is a fluorescent marker. When the GMO males are released, their only job is to copulate with female mosquitoes. The offspring become infected with the self-limiting gene and die, dramatically reducing the number of mosquitoes.

The Aedes aegypti is the mosquito responsible for spreading Zika. The Aedes aegypti has developed a resistance to pesticides forcing scientists to look for other ways to control this mosquito. Through gene modification and bacterium, science is pitting the mosquito against itself.

The takeaway here is that while it is true that even though the Zika virus has calmed down, mosquitoes will continue to be a biting, stinging, blood-sucking nuisance. Contact us for more ways you keep your space mosquito free so you and your family and friends can enjoy your summer in the sun.