From TIME Magazine
November 16, 2017
Mosquitoes are some of the deadliest creatures in the world, carrying diseases like Zika, dengue and chikungunya. In response, the U.S. government has given the green light to a unique strategy for ridding people’s yards of the disease-bearing pests.
In early November, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted commercial approval for the company MosquitoMate to release its special male Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, called ZAP mosquitoes, in 20 states and Washington DC. The company’s approach uses a type of bacteria called Wolbachia, which certain types of mosquitoes naturally carry. MosquitoMate has developed the ability to breed two types of mosquitoes that often carry diseases—Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti—that carry a different form of the bacteria that’s incompatible with the Wolbachia carried by their wild mosquito counterparts.
When MosquitoMate releases their ZAP male mosquitoes into the environment, the mosquitoes mate with wild females and pass on their Wolbachia to their offspring. Those offspring never actually hatch, however, because the Wolbachia interferes with the mosquitoes’ parental chromosomes, causing the the eggs to not develop.
They only release males, because male mosquitoes do not bite people.