Were you ever getting attacked by mosquitoes and thought to yourself: “I wish these mosquitoes couldn’t see me”? New research says that fantasy may some day become a reality.
For many years humans have used various sprays or scents to drive away mosquitoes. The Native Americans used tobacco smoke to help drive them away. They would also leave tobacco leaves around their settlements to drive away other pests as well. Tobacco is a natural pest repellant. In fact nicotine is a plants way of fending off insect attackers.
In more recent times we have used manmade sprays to keep the bugs away. After some concern about the long-term effects of these sprays, people have turned to more natural spray alternatives. We have also utilized the citronella plant in various candles. Regardless, our attempts are always half-effective and leave something to be desired.
Recently, scientist Craig Montell, a neurobiologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, authored a report which stated we could genetically engineer female mosquitoes (the ones that bite) to lose two light-sensing receptors, the ones responsible for seeing humans. The theory is that they will move on to the next best, non-human target.
Tests performed by Montell and lead author Yinpeng Zhan proved successful in a laboratory setting. If this all sounds like science fiction it should be noted that there are already genetically modified mosquitoes on the loose right here in the U.S.
Though this type of engineering may not totally get rid of human-biting mosquitoes, it will help reduce the overall number of incidents dramatically. Mosquitoes are the deadliest living creature on the planet having killed many millions of people over the course of history. This is because they carry diseases like Yellow Fever, Malaria, Zika virus, West Nile virus, and Chikungunya virus.
Currently, in Brevard County’s urban and suburban areas, a mosquito spray truck drives up and down the streets releasing a pesticide into the air. And there is no treatment in rural areas. If this genetically modified mosquito plan works, people in all of Florida will rejoice.