Bacteria-infected male mosquitoes designed to target disease-carrying mosquito populations may come to New York and New Jersey.
Biotechnology start-up MosquitoMate received approval from the Environmental Protection Agency to release the the insects in 20 states. The company has created “Zap males,” which do not bite, infected with the bacteria Wolbachia pipientis to mate with wild female mosquitoes and produce eggs that won’t hatch, cutting down the mosquito population.
Asian Tiger mosquitoes, which the Zap males are designed to target, can be carriers of dangerous diseases, such Zika. The Zap male mosquitoes will not target female mosquitoes of other species.
MosquitoMate did a trial in New York, Kentucky and California. Trials showed a greater than 80 percent reduction of the biting mosquito populations.
The bacteria in the infected mosquitoes cannot be transmitted to people or animals.
It isn’t clear how long it might take to make an impact, Nature.com reported. Targeting the mosquito population of an entire city would require the weekly production of millions of the special mosquitoes.