Worried about Zika? Consider your fears allayed: a biotech startup is testing an army of bacteria-carrying mosquitoes designed, effectively, to sterilize the mosquito that transmits Zika and dengue fever. You'll sleep easy tonight knowing that an all-out mosquito war is brewing!
Update 10/26/16: The Mosquito War has officially been scheduled to start in Brazil and Columbia at the beginning of 2017.
MosquitoMate is the American company developing these killer mosquitoes, though there are other companies, universities, and researchers working on similar strategies. The concept is pretty simple: put a bacteria, called Wolbachia, into male mosquitoes, and set them free into wild mosquito populations. When they mate with the females, the bacteria prevent the eggs from hatching, which essentially creates a sterilized population and a lot of tense mosquito relationships. After the males are given a bit of time to spread their deadly seed, the total population dwindles.
All this talk about lab-developed mosquitoes waging war to sterilize a wild population of Zika-carrying monsters seems like it would go over just fine with people living on (or under) the battlefield. Hah! In a regulatory oddity, MosquitoMate is asking for the Environmental Protection Agency to approve its skeeters as a pesticide; compare this to British company Oxitec, which modifies a gene in mosquitoes to make them "self-limiting," which basically means that cute baby mosquitoes born with the altered gene can't survive to adulthood in the wild. So sad. Florida Keys residents aren't exactly happy with the company's proposal to unleash these genetically modified insects into their community, a process that's approved by the Food & Drug Administration -- a petition to prevent the trials has nearly 170,000 signatures.