Written by Dharna Noor GIZIMODO
It’s an attempt to curb the spread of dengue, Zika and yellow fever.
Tens of thousands of male mosquitoes are descending on the Florida Keys. But these are no ordinary mosquitoes: They’re genetically modified, and they were planted around the state on purpose. It’s part of a plan to curb disease by releasing 1 billion mosquitoes across two states—but it’s giving some folks the heeby jeebies.
Workers placed boxes of mosquitoes’ eggs—two on Cudjoe Key, one on Ramrod Key and three on Vaca Key—on Thursday, and expect them to hatch in about a week. They’ll repeat the process over the coming months, releasing 12,000 of the bugs per week for 12 weeks. That’s 144,000 mosquitoes overall—gross.
The project marks the first time GMO mosquitoes have ever been released in the U.S., was launched by the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD) with the private British firm biotech Oxitec. It’s an attempt to curb the spread of dengue, Zika and yellow fever.
“As we are seeing development of resistance to some of our current control methods, we are in need of new tools to combat this mosquito,” Andrea Leal, executive director of the Florida Keys Mosquito District, said in a statement.