We recently reached a milestone of one million sterile non-biting male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes released in Mourilyan, South Johnstone and Goondi Bend since November last year!
Product Manager Dr Nigel Snoad, Lead Scientist Dr Brad White, and Director of Automation Pete Mossaro, all from project partner Verily, recently flew over from their facility in California to see the progress the team has made in Tropical North Queensland.
Speaking to local radio, Dr Snoad said that, from a project and technology perspective, one million mosquitoes was an exciting number to reach.
Releases will continue through April and possibly May while mozzie numbers are up.
“We are currently monitoring the traps in the hope to see a strong result, and we’ll continue beyond May after the releases have stopped, in order to gather data on the effects of our sterile males on the Aedes aegypti mosquito populations in the study areas,” Dr Snoad said.
“We can study the effects of our project very well in small areas like these neighbourhoods. This will help us run the project in a more effective way all around the world, which hope to do in future.”
The Verily, CSIRO and James Cook University (JCU) team are really happy to be working here in Innisfail and surrounds. The community so far has been fantastic at accepting, understanding, and participating in this study, helping us work towards removing invasive mozzies like the Aedes aegypti.
It has taken a huge effort from the team of entomologists, engineers, biologists, software engineers, statisticians, technicians, communications and other specialists – locally, interstate and internationally – to reach this point.
Dr White emphasised the benefits of working with the local team rearing mosquitoes for the field. “We are working with the JCU team who rear the mosquitoes by hand. Approximately 150,000 mosquitoes are being released across the three release sites each week,” he said.
“Whilst the rearing is done by hand, the technology proves important in order to effectively and efficiently sort these quantities of males from females, and distribute them into the landscape,” he said.
If you live or work in the study sites, and you haven’t done so already, please provide your feedback about the project here.