Google is about to release 20 million mosquitoes into the wild in a very strange plan that has a lot of people talking.
Google has an extremely insane plan to deal with mosquitoes that spread the Zika virus, dengue, and many other awful diseases out there. Verily, which was formerly known as Google Life Sciences, began releasing bacteria-infected male mosquitoes in Fresno, California, in a bid to get rid of the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. That’s right, by releasing 20 million mosquitoes, Google is hoping to get rid of mosquitoes.
But local officials don’t think it’s a crazy plan. Verily is working with Fresno’s Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District to release 1 million male mosquitoes every week for 20 weeks, starting right now. The male mosquitoes have been sterilized, so the hope is that the local females will try to mate with the sterile males, and the population of mosquitoes will start dropping. Only Female mosquitoes bite.
These mosquitoes have not been genetically modified, they simply have been infected with a bacteria that already naturally infects many populations of mosquitoes and renders the males unable to reproduce. It is called a Wolbachia infection, and it can’t be transmitted to the female.
“Last October, we announced the Debug Project, an initiative at Verily to reduce the devastating global health impact that disease-carrying mosquitoes inflict on people around the world,” the Verily statement reads. “Today, I’m happy to announce the launch of Debug Fresno, our first field study in the U.S. to test a potential mosquito control method using sterile insect technique in collaboration with MosquitoMate and Fresno County’s Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District (CMAD).
“Debug Fresno will target the invasive Aedes aegypti mosquito, which can transmit diseases like Zika, dengue, and chikungunya. Aedes aegypti first appeared in the central valley of California in 2013, and since then has become pervasive in Fresno County. This study will be the largest U.S. release to-date of sterile male mosquitoes treated with Wolbachia, a naturally occurring bacterium, and will take place over a 20 week period in two neighborhoods each approximately 300 acres in size.”