Science-technology website Verily has just begun releasing a total of 20 million bacteria-infected male mosquitoes in central California as part of a new trial. The website, which is the sister company of Google, created the plan in an attempt to cut the rate of disease transmission, according to recent reports.
Focusing on the Aedes aegypti species of mosquito, the aim of the project is to curtail the population of mosquitoes that are the most likely to carry, and therefore spread, harmful diseases throughout California. This particular species of mosquito is best known for its spreading of yellow fever, dengue fever, chikungunya, and Zika.
A key factor in the commencement of this project at this time is due to the changing climate of the planet. As the temperatures shift, so will the mosquitos and the diseases that they carry. A total of one million mosquitos have currently been set free, in the project that is now known as Debug Fresno. Whilst all one million of those mosquitos that have already been released are male, Verily is aiming for a release of one million mosquitos every week for a set period of 20 weeks in total.
None of the mosquitoes being released have been genetically modified, but are in fact infected with a natural bacteria, which is a parasitic microorganism known as Wolbachia pipientis, that makes the particular insect sterile. This means that the experiment is a form of biological control, according to reports.
The main goal of the trial is to create sterile mosquitoes, as when the sterile males mate with females after they have been released, they should effectively all become sterile, eventually cutting the population drastically over time. Now only time will tell whether the trial is a success over the coming weeks and if there will be any unforeseen consequences.
I am Jess Murray, wildlife conservationist, photographer and writer. I like to document the natural world and create awareness through my writing so that your future can be sustainable and positive. Follow my Facebook page and Instagram account to see what I am doing right now.