New technique to eradicate mosquito populations developed by Chinese scientists

Researchers and scientists have eradicated whole populations of mosquitoes on two islands in the Guangzhou province in southern China. They used a new radical technique to make male mosquitoes infertile.

Scientists released over 200 million of the Asian tiger mosquitoes that were especially bred to be infertile on the islands of Shazai and Dadaosha. This is the delta area in southern Guangzhou city, which had the highest recorded cases for dengue fever in all of China. After two years the entire population of mosquitoes in those areas were completely gone.

The study was published in the Nature journal which reported that the Asian tiger mosquitoes were exposed to short bursts of gamma radiation then received three artificially induced injections from three different kinds of a parasitic organism called Wolbachia, in order to render the male mosquitoes infertile.

Then to make the male mosquitoes stronger and larger in order to make them more attractive to female mosquitoes during the mating season they were fed with sugar water.

The intention of all of this was so that if any eggs were laid at all, they would not hatch.  It worked.

The research was a joint venture between the Sun Yat-sen Universityand Michigan State University as the Joint Centre of Vector Control for Tropical Diseases, and it had the full official support from the Guangzhou Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. This research was led by Professor Xi Zhiyong who is with Sun Yat-sen University.

Not very many people in Shazi supported the experiment in the beginning even though they had to shut themselves indoors from the late afternoon because of the mosquito population. That’s because scientists released 140 million mosquitoes on the 1.9 square mile island which was equivalent to 72,000 bugs for every one of its 2,000 or so residents. 

However, by the end of the experiment and with no more mosquitoes to deal with and no more exposure to diseases from mosquitoes, the opinion of the people changed to one of support for the project.

Environmental scientists say that it will not have any major impact on wild life as birds and fish who usually feed on mosquitoes can find other bugs to feed on. A survey taken by Nature shows that most biologists prefer to see mosquitoes eradicated because they spread so many deadly diseases and more than 700,000 people around the world die every year due to mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue and yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and the Zika virus .

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