In 2011, field testing of special lab-bred mosquitoes began in North Queensland, Australia. These mosquitoes were infected with a bacteria called Wolbachia in an effort to stop the spread of dengue fever. Wolbachia is commonly found in insects, and it is not harmful to humans. In the original tests, the bacteria was successful in blocking the transmission of dengue from mosquito to humans. These trials happened across Asia and Latin America.
Interrupting Mosquito Population Growth
In 2016, Stephen Dobson, professor of medical and veterinary entomology at the University of Kentucky, took this same bacteria and began to develop a technique to sterilize male mosquitoes. They, too, created lab-bred mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia. However, when these lab-bred mosquitoes went out and mated with female mosquitoes, the resulting eggs would not hatch. With each male mosquito created, the future generation appears to shrink.
Mosquito-borne Disease Mitigation Starts at the Source
This same testing has grown in number by the tens of thousands and even millions. Zika News reports that the mosquito responsible for carrying the Yellow fever, Zika virus, chikungunya, and dengue fever, has been virtually “wiped-out” at California test sites.
Verily, a division of Google/Alphabet, has launched the public-health project called Debug. Working with Professor Dobson’s company MosquitoMate, Verily is breeding the same type of Wolbachia infected mosquitoes. They have released millions since 2017 into California test areas.
Their testing shows that in the peak season of 2018, they “suppressed more than 95 percent of the female mosquito population at field test sites.” Keep in mind; it is mostly females that bite humans. Presently the company is focused on the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which carries the Zika virus. However, they are beginning to study the effects this technique could have on other mosquito species as well.
These are incredible trials, and they seem to be working, but we all know that it can take a long time to go from trial to approved treatment. Until that day, Mosquito Squad of Southeastern Massachusetts is doing what it always does -- eliminating the mosquitoes in your yard today. The results are fast, and it only takes a phone call. By beginning professional mosquito control treatment right away, you can limit the annoyance of mosquitoes in your living spaces all season long.