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Innovative Mosquito Control Efforts Underway in Los Angeles

A close-up of a mosquito on a blue surface.

Los Angeles is set to witness a unique spectacle as officials from the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District unleash hundreds of thousands of sterilized mosquitoes to tackle the invasive Aedes aegypti species, known for its painful bites and resistance to traditional insecticides. This mosquito control strategy, employing the sterile insect technique (SIT), involves releasing non-biting male mosquitoes that have been sterilized using X-rays and marked with a special fluorescent dye.

Starting May 16, the Sunland-Tujunga area, nestled in the San Gabriel Mountain foothills, will see weekly releases of these genetically altered mosquitoes, with plans to extend the initiative to Orange County. The approach is designed to interrupt the breeding cycle of the Aedes mosquito, which has spread rapidly since its first detection in Los Angeles County in 2011.

Steve Vetrone, director of scientific-technical services at the district, explained that unlike past methods used for other pests, these mosquitoes will be released on foot due to their fragility compared to other insects like the Mediterranean fruit flies, which were aerially dispersed. This ground-based method ensures the mosquitoes are delivered safely and effectively.

Though residents might notice an increase in mosquitoes initially, the expected outcome is a significant decrease in the biting mosquito population, enhancing comfort and safety in the community.

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