Self-Destructing Mosquitoes

Oxitec has genetically engineered mosquitoes that pass a self-destruct code to all of their female offspring.


Under ordinary circumstances, no self-respecting Floridian would consent to someone intentionally unleashing mosquitoes on their neighborhood. But a genetically engineered version of Aedes aegypti created by the bioscience firm Oxitec is changing that. The company's Friendly™ male mosquitoes pass a genetic self-destruct code to all of their blood-drinking and dengue-transmitting female offspring, which over time suppresses the local Aedes aegypti population. The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District is undertaking a collaborative pilot project using Oxitec's Friendly™ mosquitoes in small areas of the Florida Keys in spring 2021.

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  1. That really “sucks” if you are a mosquito.

  2. What could possibly go wrong?

    1. Wear a mask, duck and cover, and you’ll be fine.

  3. Cool! Now do, um, a higher species.

    1. Democrats?

      No, nevermind. Democrats are just another form of whiny blood suckers.

      1. And yet again I long for a “like” button.

    2. They already did. That’s the reason behind the push for the Covid vaccine.

  4. I know a guy in this field, and it’s been quite the arms race. He’s making the adult females flightless instead of self destructing, so the larva stage is still functional and able to compete for resources with the wild type larva. If Oxitec kills females at the larval stage, then it might not be as effective as they hope.

    The sterile male release program worked wonderfully for screw worms, so hopefully this is as effective without any problems.

    1. This sounds like they are releasing males which will produce sterile female offspring. What isn’t clear from the snippet of the article is whether the male offspring will also carry on the self destruct genetics to its female offspring.

      If that is the case this is a bit of a dangerous step in perpetuating an extinction of a species.

      People often claim that mosquitos serve no positive purpose in the ecosystem, but that isn’t true. Mosquitos are the number 1 killers of the most pervasive and dominant species on the Earth. A Species that is known to cause massive environmental changes that kill off other species.

      Mosquitos are literally the most effective animal on the planet at keeping those pesky humans in check.

      1. From Oxitec: During these field tests, Oxitec will release into the environment male mosquitoes genetically modified to carry a protein that will inhibit the survival of their female offspring when they mate with wild female mosquitoes. The male offspring will survive to become fully functional adults with the same genetic modification, providing multi-generational effectiveness that could ultimately lead to a reduction in Aedes aegypti mosquito populations in the release areas. EPA anticipates that this could be an effective tool to combat the spread of certain mosquito-borne diseases like the Zika virus in light of growing resistance to current insecticides.

        1. If it carries forward to future generations, then they had better be really, *really*, sure about the impact.

          1. What possible impact are you expecting? Even if we 100% got rid of mosquitos in the region tomorrow what would happen is modeled … and it turns out not a whole lot. People are healthier. Animals are healthier. Not everything nature does is positive.

            The current scientific / regulatory establishment is far too risk averse, which is, unfortunately, a symptom of the concerns you display. It is a risk worth taking.

            We are discussing the genetic makeup of mosquitos here … not humans. And it is not like genes can jump from one species to another.

      2. Mosquitos are quite important to the environment, mainly as larva that feed small water creatures. Over 99% of mosquito species do not transmit diseases to humans or other animals, so control methods that specifically target the disease transmitters will have little environmental impact – especially as compared to the control methods we’ve been using for 150 years, which drain ponds or poison them in an attempt to kill all mosquito larva.

      3. This species of mosquito is not native to North America and is a disease carrier. It does not belong anywhere on the continent. Driving it to local extinction is a good thing.

  5. Sounds great, hopefully it doesnt have any unintended side effects.

  6. So mosquitoes that can’t reproduce are going to out-compete those that do? I think Darwin would disagree. Sure, the sterile mosquitoes will die off, but there will always be some survivors in that genetic war that weren’t “gifted” with the killer DNA. They’ll reproduce, just like always, and we’ll have too damn many mosquitoes biting us for forever and a day all over again. This might work as a temporary fix, in a locally limited area, but I don’t see how this kills off the non-sterile population. Are the sterile mosquitoes going to out compete the non sterile mosquitoes and replace them all? All this can do is dilute the local population until the sterile ones die off. Then the non sterile mosquitoes take over again like nothing happened.

    1. “Are the sterile mosquitoes going to out compete the non sterile mosquitoes and replace them all?”

      I mean, yeah, that is the idea. If you release enough and if the genes pass on a few generations (i.e. they don’t die instantly) you can cause them to outcompete the local population and kill the majority of the population. I think they were able to remove 99%, which yeah isn’t all but its enough.

      This is not a permanent solution, but it can reduce the population long enough to prevent significant outbreaks of disease and death, and if the local population builds back up … you release them again. And again. No one claimed to be making mosquitos extinct. They just plan to kill all the ones carrying disease to prevent disease, and if they come back release them again.

      Can they get an immunity? Well … not really. The ones that survive do not survive because they mutate to be stronger, as for antibiotics, it is because they never received the “sterile” gene (i.e. they got luckily and breed with normal mosquitos.)

      But that means the ones that survive are not automatically immune from another go around. So we do it again.

      This helps save a lot of people from diseases, and animals as well. Baseless fears of “but we never did this before” yeah no shit that is how science works. We can’t just run away from every new technology that can save lives.

  7. Mosquitocide: A Genocide We Can All Get Behind

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