Southern California Releasing Thousands of Mosquitoes

Authorities in Southern California launched an initiative Thursday to combat an invasive mosquito species that has spread rapidly across the greater Los Angeles area over the past decade.

The effort includes releasing tens of thousands of sterilized male mosquitoes into the wild to mate with female mosquitoes, according to an April release from the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District. The process is called the sterile insect technique, or SIT, and has been used by the California Department of Food and Agriculture to control the Mediterranean fruit fly population in the state. The Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District is also joining in on the move.

“SIT offers a sustainable, environmentally friendly solution to reduce mosquito populations and ultimately minimize disease transmission,” Vector Control District Director Steven Vetrone said in the release.

A female Aedes aegypti mosquito, also known as the yellow fever mosquito, is shown on the skin in this close-up image provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2006. Authorities in Southern California aim to. ..

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The male mosquitoes were sterilized using X-ray technology, officials said, and eggs laid by female mosquitoes that mate with the released insects will not hatch, “decreasing the overall mosquito population over time”.

According to a report from KCAL, the first batch of male mosquitoes was expected to be released on Thursday. Additional insects will be released weekly until the end of October.

The mosquito species scientists hope to combat is the invasive Aedes species, which is capable of transmitting diseases such as dengue, chikungunya and Zika. More than two dozen California counties reported the presence of Aedes aegypti, also known as the yellow fever mosquito, as of May 3, according to the state Department of Public Health. Los Angeles and Orange counties are also dealing with the Aedes albopictus, or Asian tiger mosquito.

According to officials cited by KCAL, Aedes mosquitoes are resistant to common pesticides and often lay their eggs in small, hidden water sources in residential yards and patios that are difficult for control agencies to reach.

Sterilized mosquitoes are released in two neighborhoods in Sunland-Tujunga under the SIT program. Vetrone said in the April release, “While the introduction of male mosquitoes may result in an increase in the overall noticeable presence of insects, residents should be able to notice a reduction in biting activity” because mosquitoes males do not bite.

News week contacted the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District by email for additional comment Thursday evening.