I’ve never met anyone that actually likes being bitten by mosquitoes. These annoying pests ruin parties, yards, and night-time walks for everyone. Worse they’re vectors for dangerous diseases like the Zika virus and malaria. They’re such a terrible menace that cities not only make laws to limit their growth, they also invest money in extermination services to make out-door life enjoyable again. But if everyone wants to get rid of them, why is a university in China breeding millions of them?
The Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, China has labs hard at work birthing millions of mosquitoes for the purposes of research and distribution. As you might imagine though, these are no ordinary pests. Through cutting edge research into the fields of genetic modification and virology, the university has engineered a carrier that may mean the end of the Zika Virus threat once and for all.
These specially engineered mosquitoes are infected with a strain of Wolbachia pipientis, a bacteria that makes egg fertilization impossible. When these mosquitoes are released into the wild they group up with native mates and stop the next generation of disease carrying pests from ever being born. Within the first year of testing the university claimed a 99% suppression rate on targeted controlled release environments.
The real question is, will cities pay to have millions of mosquitoes released into their streets? Financially, it’s hard to say if this method will be much cheaper than traditional pesticides. Soon the university will be opening branches all over the world, including Brazil, who is throwing everything they have at the mosquito-borne epidemics ravaging the country. Hopefully the mosquitoes will be as effective in the field as they were in testing.