How is Los Angeles fighting off invasive mosquitoes? With more mosquitoes

The sterile insect technique involves sterilizing male mosquitoes via X-ray and releasing them back into the wild to mate with females.
Posted at 4:37 PM, May 06, 2024

Los Angeles County has a solution for its invasive mosquito population — more mosquitoes.

The Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District said it will start releasing sterilized male mosquitoes in target areas as part of a pilot program to address the pest problem.

“Invasive Aedes mosquitoes have significantly altered the outdoor experience for millions of Los Angeles residents,” the agency said. “These aggressive daytime biters not only disrupt outdoor activities but also raise concerns about the transmission of diseases such as dengue, chikungunya, and Zika.”

The agency is using the sterile insect technique, which involves sterilizing male mosquitoes via X-ray and releasing them back into the wild to mate with females. The hope is that when the sterile males mate with the females, there will be no offspring and the population will decline.

It’s the female mosquitoes that do all the biting because they need a blood meal to be able to produce eggs. Female mosquitoes also live longer than their male counterparts, according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.

The SIT method has been used in the past by the California Department of Food and Agriculture to control the Mediterranean fruit fly and by the United States Department of Agriculture to control the screwworm, the agency said. However, using the program to fight mosquitoes is relatively new.

The sterilized mosquitoes will be released into two Sunland-Tujunga neighborhoods, the agency said. Residents may notice an increase in the number of insects, but there should be a noticeable decrease in “biting activity.”

Eventually, the sterilized male mosquitoes will be released in parts of Orange County too.

The agency said the program will be monitored and evaluated for effectiveness and it won’t replace its traditional mosquito control methods.

Experts said you can help prevent mosquitoes from infesting your yard by getting rid of any standing water since that is where the insects lay their eggs.