The Delta Mosquito and Vector Control District (Delta MVCD) is interested in evaluating new technologies to help protect the public from mosquito-transmitted diseases. Oxitec, a leading developer of biological solutions to control pests that transmit diseases, destroy crops, and harm livestock has developed a solution to help control invasive Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. These mosquitoes are prevalent within our service area and pose a significant public health threat as they can transmit the viruses that cause dengue, chikungunya, Zika, yellow fever, and animal heartworm.
Our Board of Trustees voted unanimously in support of partnering with Oxitec if it receives federal and state approval to begin a project in the Central Valley. If a pilot project is approved, it would aim to evaluate the use of Oxitec mosquitoes in controlling invasive Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why does Delta MVCD want to partner with Oxitec?
Invasive Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are spreading throughout the state of California and are prevalent in the Central Valley. These mosquitoes are very hard to control and are capable of transmitting viruses that cause dengue, chikungunya, Zika, yellow fever, and animal heartworm. As part of our Integrated Mosquito/Vector Management approach, we are interested in evaluating new technologies that will combat the threat of invasive Aedes aegypti and protect the public from mosquito-transmitted diseases. Oxitec’s technology will not replace insecticides and other control measures but will be an additional public health mosquito control tool available to us.
What is a self-limiting mosquito?
Oxitec’s Friendly™ non-biting male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes carry a self-limiting gene that prevents female offspring from surviving, allowing for male-only production. After Friendly™ Aedes aegypti male mosquitoes are released and mate with invasive female mosquitoes, the female Aedes aegypti offspring die. Only female mosquitoes bite and are capable of transmitting diseases, which is why they are targeted. Oxitec’s mosquitoes also have a fluorescent marker gene which enables them to be distinguished from invasive mosquitoes for effective monitoring.
What happens if a self-limiting mosquito bites me?
Male mosquitoes DO NOT bite and since only male mosquitoes with the self-limiting gene are released, there is no risk.
Will these mosquitoes harm the environment?
No. Self-limiting mosquitoes work by finding and mating only with invasive Aedes aegypti females. The self-limiting gene cannot establish in the ecosystem and does not impact non-target species, such as bees, butterflies, and other wildlife. Oxitec’s mosquitoes do not pose a threat to humans or the environment, as confirmed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2016 and by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2020.
What would the pilot project entail?
If the project is approved, Oxitec’s non-biting male mosquitoes emerge from just-add-water boxes to mate with biting females. The female offspring of these encounters cannot survive. As the number of biting females in the population declines, the overall population of the invasive Aedes aegypti also declines.
When will Oxitec start releasing mosquitoes?
Oxitec’s partnership with Delta MVCD is subject to approval by both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. If approved, Oxitec and Delta MVCD will start releasing the Friendly™ non-biting male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes this spring.
How will the locations be chosen?
Delta MVCD will identify neighborhoods that have an abundance of invasive Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. There will be a robust community education and outreach process to identify homeowners that are interested in hosting a mosquito release box or trap.
How long will the project last?
The mosquito season in California generally starts in the spring and lasts through the fall. Oxitec’s project would be timed during the peak summer mosquito season.
Where can I learn more about Oxitec’s technology?
Please visit oxitec.com to learn more about the company’s technology, oxitec.com/california to learn about the proposed project in California, and keysmosquitoproject.com to learn more about the company’s pilot project in the Florida Keys in partnership with the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District.