How Do Genetically Modified (GM) Mosquitoes Affect The Mosquito Population?
Genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes are released into the wild in order to reduce the female mosquito population and help lower the impact of disease transmission caused by infected female mosquitoes. GM mosquitoes are mass produced in a laboratory and implanted with a self-limiting gene that prevents their offspring from growing up. After these modified mosquito eggs have hatched and aged, when males mate with females in the wild, they then pass on the self-limiting gene to the female’s offspring. This results in the inability of the female’s offspring to mature into adult mosquitoes and leads to the decrease of aedes aegypti mosquitoes.
Are Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Safe?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) studied the potential problems of releasing genetically modified mosquitoes and found “no risk to people, animals, or the environment.”
In the United States, the EPA heavily regulates the use of GM mosquitoes. In addition to EPA authorization, release of GM mosquitoes also requires approval from state and local departments. Further, releasing genetically modified mosquitoes will only work to reduce numbers of target mosquito species, in this case aedes aegypti, and not other species. Most areas have more than one species of mosquito, so use of GM mosquitoes will not eliminate or control other mosquito species.
Diseases Spread By Aedes Aegypti Mosquitoes
Female adult aedes aegypti are one of the most significant vectors of viral diseases in the US. These mosquitoes can transmit Chikungunya Fever, Dengue Fever, Eastern and Western Equine Encephalitis, West Nile Virus, Malaria, St. Louis Encephalitis and Canine heartworm. Male mosquitoes do not bite and are not able to transmit the above diseases.
Since aedes aegypti mosquitoes live near human populations and prefer to feed on people, they are more likely to spread viruses than other types of mosquitoes. Eggs laid by healthy aedes aegypti females can survive for several months and are even able to overwinter in portions of the southern United States.
How to Repel Mosquitoes
One of the best ways to reduce mosquitoes is to eliminate water sources mosquitoes can breed in like cans, tires, outdoor vases, rain gutters that hold water, and other small containers. Other methods to repel mosquitoes include using a registered and approved clothing or skin repellent and wearing long sleeve shirts and pants when outside. For help repelling and getting rid of mosquitoes, contact your Orkin Pro.