Program fighting mosquitoes with mosquitoes expands

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- This summer Debug Fresno vans have been making daily rounds in three neighborhoods. They're releasing male mosquitoes infected with a bacteria called Wolbachia in the Palmina Loma Vista, Harlan Ranch, and Fancher Creek areas.

Don't worry, male mosquitoes don't bite people and can't spread the bacteria to humans or other insects.

Steve Mulligan, district manager for the Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District says their goal is to reduce the population of the invasive Aedes aegypti mosquito, which can carry very serious diseases.

"It is a very much of a nuisance biter; it will bite people throughout the day, it will follow people indoors to bite."

The male mosquitoes released by Debug Fresno seek out the female Aedes aegypti mosquitos, they mate, and the Wolbachia bacteria renders the eggs infertile.

The project started back in 2016, and since then results have been successful. Last year they had a 68% reduction in just one location.

"The indication is that we are on track to show even greater reductions in biting females within these neighborhoods this year," says Mulligan.

The females can still bite, and other mosquito species are unaffected. That means that people still need to do their part to protect themselves by putting on bug spray and removing any standing water around their homes.

"We have had this year, an indication in some of our mosquitoes collections, that we do have Saint Louis Encephalitis
in the area, and throughout California."

Mulligan says in a few weeks they will be expanding the project to a fourth neighborhood.

He adds if it continues to be successful this could be long-term solution worldwide.
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