L.A. is releasing thousands of male mosquitoes that are sterile in order to repel aggressive females.

releasing thousands More mosquitoes are being added to the armory of people in Los Angeles who are fighting mosquitoes.

Tens of thousands of lab-raised, irradiated mosquitoes were released into the local environment on Thursday as part of a pilot initiative initiated by the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District. It is hoped that since the radiation sterilized these male mosquitoes, they will find wild female partners and mate with them using dead-end sperm, making the ensuing eggs useless.

Aides aegypti is the specific species that is the target. Since they first appeared in Los Angeles County in 2014, the insects have changed to focus on just one target: you.

Aides aegypti “moved in close to people thousands of years ago and started to specialize to live near houses and bite people,” according to Daniel Hahn, a professor in the Department of Entomology and Nematology at the University of Florida. They’re known for being aggressive nuisance biters because they’ll sting you nonstop.

Aides aegypti are backyard dwellers who take up residence in little objects like dog bowls and bottle caps. Concerning illnesses like dengue, Zika, Chikungunya, and yellow fever may be carried by them.

The general manager of the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District, which employs more than 90 full-time staff members and serves 6 million people, Susanne Kluh, stated, “We know our residents are suffering.”

As part of its last pilot program test, the district released roughly 20,000 male sterile mosquitoes on Thursday that had been dyed to seem fluorescent under a black light. Since male Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes do not bite, researchers conclude that there is almost no risk to people from the program.

The district intends to release seven to ten sterile mosquitoes for each wild male they think is residing in the target area, which is the Sunland-Tujunga section of Los Angeles, next month. Up to 60,000 mosquitoes a week could result from that.

The plan is an illustration of how people are using cutting-edge technology to stop the spread of invasive mosquitoes and the diseases they can transmit, which are becoming more and more common due to urbanization, global trade, and climate change.


We are always engaged in an arms race with them because they have evolved expressly to take advantage of people as their hosts, according to Hahn.

An increased geographic range of hostile mosquitoes
The Aedes Aegypti mosquito is not native to the United States but has existed in some locations for hundreds of years. They even had a major impact on American history when, in 1793, a yellow fever outbreak prompted some federal officials to leave Philadelphia, which served as the nation’s capital.

Researchers have cautioned in recent years that the species’ territory will expand due to rising temperatures brought on by climate change. It seems that’s what took place in Southern California.

Last year, the state reported its first two instances of locally acquired dengue fever, indicating that the virus was being spread by nearby mosquitoes.

“Everyone used to say that our weather wasn’t suitable, but as you can see, mosquitoes adapt, and things have changed,” Kluh remarked. “People create these perfect little moist mini climates in their backyards with lush plants and everything,” the statement reads. “We get more moisture in the summer.”

Additionally, the area has experienced suburban and urban sprawl, which has increased Aedes Aegypti’s habitat.

Mosquitoes fighting other mosquitoes
Though the eggs used to create the armed mosquitoes came from the Los Angeles region, they were created in a facility in Kentucky. The vector district arranges for the weekly hatching of mosquitoes in tiny insect dormitories, followed by a radiation zap from a specialized equipment. The radioactive mosquitoes, according to Kluh, will fly no farther than 150 meters after being released.

According to Hahn, who is not associated with the L.A. experiment, the radiation blast breaks up the chromosomes in the mosquitoes’ cells, stopping them from reproducing but allowing them to fly and carry out other biological tasks almost normally.

Kluh stated that there is no harm to the public and that the mosquitoes are not radioactive.

The program has used roughly $255,000 of the district’s $24.8 million yearly budget, she said, saying, “We’ve done this on the cheap.”

However, Kluh stated that expanding the initiative to include more of Los Angeles County would be difficult. Instead, she sees it as a focused treatment for Aedes Aegypti hotspots and regions where illnesses carried by mosquitoes have been documented.

Similar technologies are being pursued in other areas. Lee County, Florida started releasing radioactively sterile mosquitoes in 2017. A number of other California districts have either bought irradiators or are in the process of piloting the program.

Novel methods for controlling pests
The notion of using radiation to eradicate pests is not a novel one. According to Hahn, male fruit flies have been radioactively treated by the agriculture sector for roughly thirty years.

He claimed that although mosquito programs were created forty years ago, they eventually “got left behind because it wasn’t cost effective.”

However, since then, mosquitoes have developed a resistance to several conventional pesticides, necessitating the development of new remedies.

In order to combat Aedes Aegypti, several businesses are exploring alternative methods. These include genetically altering male mosquitoes to kill females, releasing male mosquitoes carrying specific bacteria, or introducing a dominant gene into the population to reduce the number of insects.

Despite the possibility of unforeseen repercussions, Hahn stated that some of these concepts are still worth investigating. The Environmental Protection Agency regulates these technologies, some of which are being tested in limited pilot programs.

However, because irradiation programs are unregulated, they are currently the preferred weapon in the United States.

Klum stated, “We wanted to start something now.”

Article Source NBC news

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