When it comes to mosquito control, products like mosquito repellent, mosquito misting systems and fogging treatments are standard solutions for keeping the insects away. Yet a not-so-standard solution may be available in the near future, one that functions as a type of "mosquito birth control" that deters the full development of mosquito offspring.
How Mosquito Birth Control Works
This new type of mosquito control would incorporate a discovery made by researchers at the University of Arizona and reported in the PLoS Biology journal. Researchers found female mosquitos rely on a certain protein for their offspring to properly hatch. When researchers blocked that protein, the eggs laid by female mosquitoes had defective shells, which resulted in the death of the embryos inside them.
Not only did blocking the protein result in the death of the first batch of embryos from the treated mosquitoes, but it prevented reproduction for the remainder of the mosquitoes' lifespan. Even after multiple feedings, female mosquitoes treated with this method remained unable to produce viable eggs.
Mosquito Birth Control Benefits
Reducing the mosquito population is an obvious benefit of this new discovery, but it may not be the only one. Drugs that targeted the specific protein unique to female mosquitoes would not impact beneficial insects, like bees.
Drugs containing the protein-blocking agent could be used in the same way as existing mosquito sprays, with the drug applied to tent screens, bed nets and other areas in need of mosquito control. When female mosquitoes landed on such items, they would absorb the drug through their legs and body.
Employing a fresh approach to mosquito control could also overcome the problem many long-term mosquito control methods have faced. Some products have been used for so long that mosquitoes have built up a tolerance, and they are no longer affected by their application.
Researchers also note any mosquito control method developed using the protein blocker may have a higher likelihood of being bio-safe than other types of mosquito control.
Ongoing Mosquito Dangers
Although they're small in stature, mosquitoes can be a huge problem. The World Health Organization (WHO) ranks mosquitoes as one of earth's deadliest animals, thanks to their ability to spread disease. These diseases include Zika, the West Nile virus, Chikungunya, dengue, yellow fever and malaria. Malaria alone killed nearly 450,000 people in 2016, mainly young children and babies in sub-Saharan Africa.
Because mosquitoes are useful pollinators in the ecosystem, the aim is not to wipe them out entirely. Scientists said the goal is instead to curb the mosquito population during outbreaks.
Mosquito Control Now
While the discovery holds promise, development of mosquito control products incorporating the birth control concept would not hit the shelves immediately. University of Arizona department of chemistry and biochemistry head Roger Miesfeld said he hoped to see a new generation of products in about five years.
In the meantime, reducing the risk of contracting mosquito-borne illnesses is still a priority. A variety of methods have proven effective at keeping mosquitoes and other flying insects at bay. MosquitoNix® offers several solutions that include mosquito misting systems, mosquito fogging treatments and portable mosquito control for smaller areas or when you're on the go. Learn more at MosquitoNix today.
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Probably the last thing in the world that residents of the Houston, Texas, area would like are more bugs. Harris County already has one of the worst mosquito problems in the nation. The warm, humid climate is a prime breeding ground for the dangerous insects, and it’s been made worse recently by weather that’s even warmer and wetter than usual.