LEE COUNTY, Fla. – This week, Lee County Mosquito Control made history.

The district became the first-ever control district in the county to release male Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes, sterilized by means of X- ray, to help eradicate the population in an area.

The method and release procedure has taken two years to research and mobilize.

The male mosquitoes are grown in LCMCD labs using eggs from the local population. Scientists sterilize them using X-rays and then release them to mate with wild female mosquitoes.

The females will be unable to produce viable eggs, in turn decreasing the population.

This initial round of releases will determine the flight range of male mosquitoes once released, which will aid LCMCD biologists in determining effective release points.

Traps will be placed at various locations throughout Captiva Island in Lee County to collect mosquitoes that have been released. The sterile mosquitoes are dusted with fluorescent powder to help scientists identify them in the traps.

Male mosquitoes do not bite but may be noticeable in flight as they search for the wild females.

Aedes aegypti is an invasive non-native mosquito that is of public health importance and is found throughout Lee County. It is a known vector of dengue fever, chikungunya virus, Zika virus, and yellow fever.

This species has demonstrated resistance to certain pesticides and coupled with its cryptic breeding habitat, can be challenging to control.

Using the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), the District will target the Aedes aegypti population on Captiva and eventually continue releases in other areas of the county.

You can learn more about Lee County Mosquito Control District by clicking here.

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