New Study Improves Sterile Insect Technique for Mosquitoes

E. Ricciuti,  Entomology Today,  2023.

As Florida health authorities work to respond to an ever-growing cadre of invasive tropical mosquitoes, a research team has sharpened an environmentally friendly tool increasingly deployed against a dangerous species that invaded the state two centuries ago. The mosquito is Aedes aegypti, vector of yellow fever, dengue fever, chikungunya, and Zika fever. It is one of the mosquitoes increasingly targeted with the sterile insect technique (SIT), in which male insects reared en masse are sterilized by gamma-ray or x-ray ionization and released to mate with wild females, which then produce non-viable eggs. Besides being environmentally innocuous, SIT is not hindered by insecticide resistance, a huge plus for pest managers. Long used against flies and other agricultural insect pests, SIT has shown promise against disease vectors such as mosquitoes, but a few wrinkles have kept it from reaching full potential. Research on Aedes aegypti described in a new study published in June in the Journal of Medical Entomology has smoothed the process, showing that the success of SIT can be measurably enhanced if male mosquitoes are sterilized when they emerge as adults, rather than as pupae, the approach now in use.

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