Saturday, March 30, 2019

Meet the Mosquito With a Big Appetite—for Other Mosquitoes

By Ed Ricciuti

It sounds like classic cloak and dagger. A band of assassins is fielded to infiltrate and kill enemies that are spreading dangerous diseases among the general population. That’s the idea behind using mosquito against mosquito, a tactic described in a new article published this month in the Journal of Insect Science.

Scientists in Harris County, Texas—Houston is county seat—have come up with what could lead to a better way of producing, in their words, “lab-reared, native mosquito assassins,” Toxorhynchites rutilus septentrionalis, that prey on other mosquitoes, notably Aedes species, which spread human disease viruses such as dengue, Zika, chikungunya, and yellow fever. Previously, the tactic has been used infrequently, because it is relatively inefficient. For one, the predatory mosquitoes are not available commercially so must be raised in house. And it is difficult to produce enough of them in a laboratory to make a make a dent in disease vector numbers after release in the environment. But this new research may change all that............Instead of raising killer mosquitoes all together in batches.....has been inefficient.........when reared all together (the old way) Tx. rutilus larvae cannibalize one another, sharply reducing the output.

Larval Tx. rutilus voraciously hunt and gorge on the larvae of disease-vector mosquitoes sharing the same water. One of them can consume up to 5,000 prey larvae before it matures..........To Read More.... 

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