Could a bacterium be the answer to these disease-carrying pests?
For most of the U.S., mosquito season is over or it will be soon. Unfortunately, there’s sort of no such thing as mosquito season in Florida, as our year-round warm weather provides an ideal climate for these insects. This is why even in the heart of winter you may feel that familiar sting on any exposed skin.
While mosquitos will always bite, it’s possible that in the future those bites may not be as dangerous. Researchers have discovered that a bacterium called Wolbachia pipientis, which can manipulate its host, could protect mosquitos from getting viruses that lead to diseases such as Zika and dengue.
When Aedes aegypti – the most dangerous type of mosquito – was infected with Wolbachia in a lab, this caused the viruses they were carrying to replicate less. This means that when a mosquito with the bacterium would bite someone, there’d be a reduced chance of disease transmission.
Right now, it is not entirely known why Wolbachia limits viruses in mosquitos – it could be related to improving their immune systems or limiting the nutrients the viruses need. To see how effective this strategy will be for limiting disease, Wolbachia-infested mosquitos are being released into the wild.
Wolbachia is also being tested as a means to control mosquito populations. This past spring, thousands of infected mosquitos were released in the Florida Keys. All male, the goal was for these mosquitos to mate with uninfected mosquitos. The offspring will only survive if the fertilized egg has Wolbachia, which would limit mosquito populations.
In other parts of the world, female mosquitos are the target. Because they are the ones that transmit disease, several research institutions have collaborated to create test areas where Wolbachia-infected female mosquitos have been released. The theory is that when the bacterium is transmitted to offspring, this will make them less likely to spread viruses.
Until science solves the mosquito problem, there’s a way to keep your home protected
It remains to be seen how effective Wolbachia will be at either limiting mosquito-spread diseases or cutting down their populations, but it is a positive sign that researchers are working diligently to make sure people are safe.
Though a scientific resolution could be many years away, there is something you can do right now to keep mosquitos away: install an automatic misting system. This will allow you to enjoy your home and not have to worry about your family being bitten in your own backyard. To learn more about a mosquito control system and to get a free onsite consultation for your home or business, get in touch with Platinum Mosquito Protection by filling out our online contact form.