Did you know that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved plans to release millions of genetically modified mosquitoes into the environment? No, this isn't a scene from a science fiction movie – it's actually happening. The EPA has given the go-ahead for a company called Oxitec to release genetically modified male mosquitoes into Florida and Texas counties, and they may soon be released in California as well.
So what are these genetically modified mosquitoes, and why are they being released into the wild? Furthermore, does this mean more mosquito bites for everyone in the future? The answer might not be what you expect.
Genetically Modified Male Mosquitoes Could Help Stem Invasive or Disease-Spreading Mosquito Populations
The answer to stemming invasive mosquito populations could be a new type of mosquito – one that’s male and genetically modified. Male mosquitoes don’t bite people or animals – only the females do because they need the blood to produce eggs. Because male mosquitoes don't bite, they cannot spread disease, making them harmless to humans.
So we know what you're thinking: okay, biting may not be an issue, but won't more male mosquitoes potentially mean bigger mosquito populations?
That's where genetic engineering comes into play. These male mosquitoes have been genetically engineered so that when they mate with wild female mosquitoes, their offspring won’t survive to adulthood. Over time, this should reduce the targeted mosquito population as a whole. Success was seen with this approach in Florida in 2021.
Many experts are hopeful that adopting this method on a larger scale will help control rampant populations of invasive or potentially disease-carrying mosquitoes. Plus, it’s thought to be a more effective and environmentally-friendly approach than spraying pesticides.
Objections to the Release of Genetically Modified Mosquitoes
Of course, releasing millions of genetically modified mosquitoes into the environment is a big deal, and not everyone is on board with the plan just yet. Some worry about the long-term environmental effects of releasing genetically modified organisms into various ecosystems, while others are concerned that releasing these mosquitoes may present a danger to those of certain occupations, such as field workers or those in public health. Before the plan is enacted in California, experts anticipate it will be subject to at least several more months of review.
NJ Mosquito Control
At Horizon Pest Control, we have over 50 years of experience providing top-quality mosquito control services to both residential and commercial customers in New Jersey and New York. For help with a mosquito problem on your property, call us today at (201) 365-9886.