I rarely have problems with mosquito bites, but it does occasionally happen. I rigged up a contraption that involves a pump-up sprayer with a spray nozzle attached to a 40volt cordless leaf blower. I can blast insecticide into shrubs but that also kills beneficial insects. It also has to be done half a dozen times over the summer to be effective. On the other hand, my wife is a mosquito magnet. It seems like she complains of getting bit every time she goes out to hand water plants during the summer. For millions of people around the world, a mosquito bite isn’t just an irritation that is itchy for a day and then forgotten. I have a close relative that went camping years ago and caught West Nile Virus from a mosquito bite. About half of people who have had West Nile suffer from long-term problems due to the infection.
Mosquitoes are the mostly deadly living thing that preys on humans. According to Pfizer and the CDC:
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls mosquitoes the “world’s deadliest animal.”1 It’s a weighty moniker for an insect that weighs just 2.5 milligrams, but it’s well deserved because vector-borne diseases, including those transmitted by mosquitos, cause more than 700,000 deaths worldwide every year …
So what if there were a bacteria that could infect mosquitoes making them less harmful? In my deadly brew that I spray through my Ghostbuster Mosquito Blaster™ is an insect growth inhibitor, that prevents mosquitoes from reaching maturity. Also, in my birdbath I use mosquito dunks that contain the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (BTI) that supposedly kills mosquito larvae. However, there are far more advanced experiments being conducted on mosquito control. One is releasing female mosquitoes that are sterile. Another is releasing female mosquitoes infected with a bacteria called Wolbachia. Wolbachia does not killed mosquitoes, it prevents spreading the pathogens inside the mosquito so they cannot pass on the disease to humans or animals. In theory that is beneficial in two ways. A mosquito with Wolbachia cannot pass on dengue, which results in fewer cases of dengue, which means even the mosquitos without Wolbachia are less likely to pass on dengue, for example.
These scientists began to consider a parasitic bacteria called Wolbachia, which lives quietly in all kinds of insect species. A female mosquito with Wolbachia passes it on in her eggs to all of her offspring, who eventually pass it on to the next generation.
Paradoxically disarming mosquitoes involves growing and releasing large numbers of mosquitoes.
In a laboratory in downtown Medellín, Colombia, it is lunchtime: A technician in a white coat carries a loaded tray into a steamy nursery. She walks between rows of white mesh cages, each the size of a mini-fridge, and slides a thin tray of blood into every one. In response, her charges, all 100,000 of them, begin to whir and emit an excited hum.
This is a mosquito factory. Each week it churns out more than 30 million adult Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, with their distinctive white polka dots on their wiry black legs. The brood stock of females is fed on discarded blood blank donations, and horse blood. Eventually, some of their progeny will be released into Medellín, Cali and cities and towns in Colombia’s verdant river valleys. Other insects will be chilled into a stupor for a journey up to Honduras.
Scientists first had to figure out how to infect mosquitoes with Wolbachia and test whether the theory worked.
There, after three years, areas where Wolbachia had been released had 77 percent fewer cases of dengue reported, and 86 percent fewer hospitalizations.
Those results were stunning — a delight for a population used to miserable dengue seasons, and a huge relief for the public health system. Dengue causes intense suffering in even “mild” cases — it’s commonly called “breakbone fever” — and 5 percent of cases progress to the hemorrhagic form of the disease, with uncontrolled bleeding. Half of the people who develop hemorrhagic dengue die if they do not have access to treatment to control the bleeding. There are no antiviral drugs to kill the dengue virus, and the search for a safe and effective vaccine has been long and fraught.
After the program was tested in Medellín, Columbia in 2017 and the city experienced the lowest dengue outbreak in two decades in 2021, which was expected to be a peak year based on past cycles.
The entire article is worth reading. Unleashing a New Weapon on the Mosquito: A Mosquito. There are also two similar articles in the New York Times.