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Scientists enlist male mosquitoes in fight against disease

Scientists are using a novel method to battle Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes are being turned into mosquito-control workers with the help of scientists at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier, reported Barbara Anderson in the Fresno Bee.

Kearney, one of nine UC Agriculture and Natural Resources research and extension facilities across the state, houses a mosquito research lab led by UC Davis entomologist Anthony Cornel. Cornel and his staff are working with the Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District to tacking Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which have plagued a southeast Clovis neighborhood for three years. Aedes aegypti are capable of spreading dengue, yellow fever and chikungunya.

The scientists are trying a novel control approach. They collected mosquito eggs in Clovis and shipped them to a laboratory in Kentucky, where thousands of harmless male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes were bred. The insects were then dusted with a pesticide and released to mate with females in the infested area. The pesticide doesn't allow the female to produce viable offspring. When the mosquitoes were released, small cups of water were placed nearby to monitor activity. If the water contained pesticide from the mosquitoes, it would kill mosquitoes back in the lab.

“Two weeks ago, we saw really good activity, a lot of the water we brought back resulted in death,” Cornel said. “Last week's water, we didn't see much death, so we're not sure why.”

Cornel theorized the recently released males may have been slowed down by heat exposure suffered during the trip from Kentucky to Fresno.

“The males released likely didn't mate as well with the wild females as they should have," he said. “We noticed a lot were dead and they looked like they were stressed … they were just not vibrant for them to perform very well out there in the field.”

But because of the initial success, the scientists are not about to scrap the project.
Posted on Tuesday, September 8, 2015 at 2:42 PM
Tags: Anthony Cornel (10), mosquitoes (38)


What is the pesticide? What are the implications of the research? I can't form an opinion on this issue because there are not enough facts. I'm being direct here as we are an institution that is supposed to be increasing science literacy.

Posted by Dan Stark on September 9, 2015 at 9:03 AM

The Fresno Bee article, linked in this story, says, "For the trial, adult males were dusted with the insecticide pyriproxyfen in an amount small enough not to harm the males nor their female mates, but strong enough to leave enough poison in breeding water to disrupt the development of mosquito larvae."  
Read more here:

Reply by Pamela Kan-Rice on September 9, 2015 at 9:11 AM

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