A few days ago approval was given by the US Environmental Protection Agency for release of lab-grown skeeters which are weaponized insects whose mission is to target wild, disease carrying mosquito populations in 20 states including New York.
Kentucky-based MosquitoMate will infect the males, which don’t bite people, with Wolbachia pipientis bacterium. The hope is the males mate with female Asian tiger mosquitoes, which do bite humans, and are carriers of dangerous viral diseases, such as yellow fever and Zika. Technically and proved in laboratory, eggs fertilized this way don’t hatch, because the bacteria frazzles the dad’s genetic contribution. This a better alternative to pesticides, the scientists say.
Mosquitoes in laboratory
“It’s a non-chemical way of dealing with mosquitoes, so from that perspective, you’d think it would have a lot of appeal,” University of Maryland entomologist David O’Brochta told the media. The company could start selling its infected mosquitoes this summer via government contracts, or direct to consumers. EPA on Nov. 3 registered MosquitoMate’s mosquito as a biopesticide, with a five-year license. In April, the MosquitoMte company began a 12-week field trial that involved releasing 20,000 male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in Stock Island, in the Florida Keys. In China’s southern city of Guangzhou, scientists used a similar method to control the insects’ population by building a mosquito factory that produced millions of Wolbachia-infected male mosquitoes last year.