EPA Gives Nod to Bacteria-infected Mosquitoes, Non-chemical Way to Fight Mosquito-borne Diseases


Published Date : Nov 09, 2017

MosquitoMate has received a green signal from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to release male mosquitoes, deliberately infected with Wolbachia pipientis bacteria, into the environment. The Kentucky biotechnology firm has aimed this research at killing the Asian tiger mosquito to curb the spread of mosquito-borne diseases such as chikungunya, yellow fever, dengue, and Zika. The male mosquitoes, which do not bite humans, will reportedly infect wild female mosquitoes in such a way that the fertilized eggs do not hatch when they mate.

MosquitoMate founder, Stephen Dobson has said that the ZAP Males, i.e. the bacteria-infected mosquitoes, will be sold to individual municipalities and homeowners next summer. However, the firm will have to register in each individual state to use the product there, according to the EPA.

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MosquitoMate has already tested Aedes aegypti, another mosquito species, to be infected with the same bacteria. While similar products such as Oxitec’s genetically modified mosquitoes have triggered pushback and controversy in the Florida Keys, MosquitoMate has received some positive comments in the Florida trials. Yet, Florida has not been included in the list of several states permitted for the use of the newest-approved product due to no field trials conducted. The states chosen are more similar in precipitation and temperature to those where the ZAP Males have been tested, i.e. California, New York, and Kentucky.

Dobson has assured that other mosquito species and insects will not be harmed when the bacteria-infected males are released into the wild.