Researchers Using Mosquitoes To Decrease Pests' Own Population

Jul 15, 2014

A new technology being developed at UK known as ‘Mosquito Mate’ is a chemical free way to get rid of mosquitos.

Researcher Stephen Dobson is a professor of medical and veterinary entomology at the University of Kentucky.  Dobson, along with one of his former grad-students, discovered a way to sterilize female mosquitoes through a naturally occurring bacterium.  “The idea is that we’re rearing lots of mosquitoes in the laboratory.  We remove the females.  The female mosquitoes bite.  Instead we release only the male mosquitoes which don’t bite.  We release lots and lots of these male mosquitoes which have this bacterium and then they mate with the females in the field and effectively sterilize them.”

The primary target for MosquitoMate is the Asian tiger mosquito and as the name suggests, it is an introduced pest, coming to the U.S. in the mid-1980’s.  Dobson said by eliminating this mosquito, we would be going back to a more natural state and it’s advantageous to use this method as opposed to pesticides because the chemicals can affect non-targets such as bees, butterflies and other insects that are beneficial to our ecosystem.