An interesting project is taking place in the city of Fresno, California this summer. A tech company from the Silicon Valley took millions of machine-raised mosquitoes, put them into vans, and then released them into the city. The mosquitoes were also infected with bacteria. The entire project was encouraged by officials from Fresno County as part of the Debug Fresno project. The project is an effort to cut down on the number of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which arrived in the Central Valley of California back in 2013.
This mosquito is known for carrying the Zika virus, the dengue fever, and a few other diseases that can cause various health issues for those bitten by the insects. Officials had also become concerned with this breed of mosquito because it adapted to the city and other areas, much to the dismay of residents.
The district manager for the Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District, Steve Mulligan, said, “It’s a terrible nuisance, a terrible biting nuisance. It’s changed the way people can enjoy their backyard and it’s a threat for disease transmission. So we’re looking for new ways to eliminate it.”
The partnership between county officials and multiple tech companies led to the creation of machine-raised mosquitoes. The mosquitoes are infected with the Wolbachia bacteria, are all males, and do not bite. The males were released to mate with the females, who will lay eggs that will never hatch. Because of the eggs that won’t hatch, officials hope to get rid of the mosquitoes within a couple of their generations.
Mulligan continued, “It’s kind of contrary to what a person would think. ‘What, you’re doing what? You’re releasing mosquitoes to control mosquitoes?’ We are releasing male mosquitoes because male mosquitoes do not bite and cannot transmit disease.”
It is estimated that close to one million mosquitoes will be released each week in Fresno County. The one million mosquitoes is 25 times more than the total released in the summer of 2016. The higher number is a direct result of scientists being able to separate males from females on a larger level. The white vans have driven through neighborhoods in Fresno and Clovis, releasing mosquitoes as evenly as possible.
Mulligan does not believe that eliminating this breed of mosquito will have negative effects on fauna and flora in the area. Mulligan tends to believe there won’t be any negative effects because the mosquito was not a natural part of the environment. That breed of mosquito invaded the environment. Mulligan said the contrary would come into play if this project is successful in eliminating the mosquito from California altogether; that a positive effect would play out on human life and nature. The original goal of infecting the mosquitoes with Wolbachia was to prevent the spread of dengue fever.
The Zika virus has not been as prevalent as it was just two years ago, but there are still mosquitoes carrying the virus throughout the United States. Tick Killz is an all-natural product that can help control mosquitoes on your property, allowing for some peace of mind while spending time outside.