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To Help Reduce Mosquito Population, Scientists Are Unleashing 20 Million Of Them

To Help Reduce Mosquito Population, Scientists Are Unleashing 20 Million Of Them

Debug Fresno will target the aedes aegypti mosquito, which can transmit diseases like Zika, dengue and chikungunya.

So it may seem odd to you when you hear about Alphabet Inc releasing 20 million mosquitoes in Fresno, California.

During the period between the spring and fall of 2016, 38 additional USA counties reported evidence of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More from The Verge:Why is Comcast using self-driving cars to justify abolishing net neutrality?

100,000 live mosquitoes, all male, all incapable of producing offspring [are released daily in Fresno, California]. The effort will ramp up to the full 1 million mosquito capacity over the next week, Kathleen Parkes, a Verily spokesperson, told The Verge in an email.

The released mosquitoes will be bred and infected with Wolbachia - a bacterium that is "naturally found in at least 40 percent of all insect species", according to The Scientist magazine.

"When a male who is caring it mates with a female who does not, the eggs are not viable".

Verily's mosquitoes are not genetically modified. "[However] Humans were hundreds of times more likely to spread pathogens via air travel, even in the absence of any mosquito control".

Liesch says the mosquito has previously been found in Minnesota over a dozen times.

For any resident of California anxious about a sudden increase in mosquitos during the trial, it is worth noting that males do not bite or transmit the disease to humans.

The way Wolbachia works is like a lock-and-key system for mosquito reproduction, explains entomologist Stephen Dobson at the University of Kentucky, whose spinoff company MosquitoMate provided Verily with their breeding stock of Wolbachia-infected females. MosquitoMate worked with CMAD to release about 800,000 Wolbachia-infected males in 2016.



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