With Sterilizing Bacteria, Miami-Dade County Brings In New Arsenal For Peak Mosquito Season

May 23, 2018

Peak mosquito season is coming and Miami-Dade County officials say they are ready to fight it with a new weapon: a bacteria that makes mosquitos sterile. 

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez said in a press conference Wednesday that the county will be using the Wolbachia bacteria to handle the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which is seen as being primarily responsible for transmitting diseases like Dengue and Zika.

"Wolbachia is a naturally-occurring bacteria that, when introduced in non-biting male Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes, will make them sterile," he said. "When the males mate with the females, the resulting eggs do not hatch."

The program, which will be introduced to select areas, is a potential non-pesticide alternative for mosquito control.

The Aedes Aegypti is different from other mosquitos in that they usually do not travel more than 150 yards away from where they were born. While the county is engaged in a year-round anti-mosquito campaign, which involves in trapping, surveillance, and larviciding activities, residents can also implement their own anti-mosquito measures. The county advises residents to "drain & cover," or drain bodies of still water and wear long sleeves.

Residents should pay special attention to areas with vegetation; plants like Bromeliads can hold water and become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. The county suggests treating the plants with a safe larvicide, like Bti granules.

Household containers stored outdoors can also easily collect standing water, which should be drained to prevent mosquito breeding. And water features like fountains and decorative ponds, which can also hold stagnant water, should be regularly treated with larvicides.

Residents can request mosquito control inspection by calling 311. Wearing long-sleeved clothing and EPA-approved insect repellents on uncovered areas can provide a primary layer of defense. Approved insect repellents contain DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon, eucalyptus, or IR3535.

For more information, visit Miami-Dade County Mosquito control.