Can Mosquitoes Be Eliminated?

Experiment removes mosquitoes from two islands

July 19, 2019

The World Health Network has described mosquitoes as the deadliest animals in the world for their ability to spread disease. Grounds workers and facility managers who spray for mosquitoes regularly to help protect building residents will be happy to learn about a new experiment that almost eliminated an invasive mosquito species from two islands off the coast of China, according to a study published in the journal Nature.

Xi Zhiyong, a professor at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich. who runs a mosquito factory in southern China, and his colleagues attempted to cut the number of mosquitoes by limiting their ability to reproduce. They sterilized female mosquitoes with low-level radiation and infected male mosquitoes with Wolbachia bacteria. Then they released the mosquitoes during the peak breeding seasons in 2016 and 2017 on two islands in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong.

The experiment reduced the female Asian tiger mosquito population, the species which is the main source of bites and disease transmission, by up to 94%. This led to a 97% reduction in the number of reported mosquito bites to humans.

Asian tiger mosquitoes are difficult to eradicate with conventional methods, such as pesticides and the removal of stagnant water where they breed. New pest management technologies have included genetically modifying male mosquitoes so when they mate with wild females the offspring die before reaching adulthood.

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