The Environmental Protection Agency announced this week that it registered a mosquito biopesticide called "ZAP Males", made by MosquitoMate Inc., which is meant to deplete specific mosquito populations.
On their website, MosquitoMate claims that the release of their modified males reduces biting mosquito populations by 80 percent, and now, they market their line of lab-grown mosquitoes as a method of pest control, helping towns and their citizens see fewer itchy bites in the warm months.
Aedes albopictus - the Asian Tiger Mosquito - which are known to carry dengue fever, the Zika virus and the chikungunya virus will be scientifically modified with a bacteria that keeps them from carrying these viruses and also disrupts the breeding process.
The solution to fighting mosquito-borne diseases could very well be other mosquitoes. "I'm glad to see it pushed forward, as I think it could be potentially really important".
As more of the male mosquitoes are released into the wild, MosquitoMate hopes to reduce the wild population of Asian tiger mosquitoes. This bacteria can not be transmitted to mammals, and eggs fertilized by infected males will not hatch.
The mosquitoes are licensed to sell in 20 states, including New York, New Jersey, and CT, and Washington, D.C., for five years, but they must also be registered in those jurisdictions before they can be used. If the bacteria shows the same effectiveness in this species, the company's mosquitoes could be a tiny, flying weapon in our battle against some of the deadliest diseases on the planet.
Company officials say the sale of the insects could begin by summer for mosquito control for homeowner associations, municipalities or individual homeowners. The EPA stated that the company will have to register in each state for local use. While other companies that have done the same have received negative feedback, MosquitoMate has had mostly positive reviews during a public-comment forum in Florida.
Lab-produced mosquitoes have been successfully used in China and Brazil.