Learn about three plans experts are working on
As we head towards the heart of mosquito season, you may be wondering what – if anything – is being done to fight these annoying and potentially dangerous buggers. After all, when Zika first arrived in Florida a couple of years ago, public agencies immediately recognized its severity and went to work trying to stop it from spreading. But the virus hasn’t really been in the news much lately, so do we even need to worry about it anymore?
The truth is Zika is still in the U.S. and poses a particular danger to pregnant women. But Zika isn’t the only virus we have to be concerned about, mosquito pros say.
It may only be a matter of time before there’s an outbreak of yellow fever or dengue, especially in a state like Florida. This is why health and safety experts recently gathered to present the latest plans to combat mosquitos. All of their tactics focused on what is thought to be the best method: sterilizing males and having them mate with wild females in order to produce eggs that won’t hatch.
A biotech company called Oxitec has developed a way to modify the genetic makeup of mosquitos so they have a self-limiting gene. When they mate with females in the wild, this gene would get passed on and any offspring would die before they got to adulthood.
“The females are killed as pupae and the males are allowed to pupate,” said Dr. Derric Nimmo of Oxitec.
The company – which wants to try out their mosquitos in the Keys – has yet to be given permission in large part due to the controversial GMO label attached to the project. The EPA has until July to offer Oxitec an experimental-use permit.
Another effective way to control mosquito populations is by infecting males with bacteria called Wolbachia. When a male with Wolbachia mates with a female, the eggs produced won’t hatch. A trial last summer in the Lower Keys proved to be a success.
“We did observe declines in egg hatch throughout the project at sites exposed to released males only,” said Jimmy Mains of MosquitoMate, the company behind the project. MosquitoMate is now planning a much larger trial for South Miami.
Lee County has a plan for 2019 to release mosquitos that have been sterilized with gamma radiation. Currently, a colony of mosquitos is being kept on a property owned by Lee County Mosquito Control. In order to sterilize them, male mosquito eggs will be put in a pupal separator and then in an X-ray machine.
“We can sterilize 200,000 pupae at one time,” said David Hoel, assistant director of Lee County Mosquito Control.
When these males are released, the eggs they produce with wild females will never hatch. Although optimistic, Hoel isn’t quite sure how effective this will be. “We’re rolling the dice and don’t know how well this is going to work,” he admits.
While experts may disagree on the best ways to eradicate troublesome mosquitos, they all agree that current tactics aren’t getting the job done.
“Spraying is not going to do it,” said Bob Eadie, the director of the Monroe County Health Department. “These presentations prove how things really have to be considered to go forward because the diseases we’re seeing throughout the world are changing and they’re still mutating.”
Protect your home with a mosquito control system
Though the efforts mentioned above may be effective, they aren’t much use for most of us right now. But there is a way you can keep your home protected from dangerous mosquitos. With a misting system, you won’t have to worry about these insects invading your yard.
For a free onsite consultation, just contact Platinum Mosquito Protection.