Our mozzies make mates in Mourilyan

November 29th, 2017

Mourilyan residents are the first to meet our sterile male non-biting Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. They are therefore the very first in Australia and second in the world to be a part of the Debug mosquito research project testing Verily’s technology to implement the sterile insect technique, to try and reduce local populations of the mosquito that can transmit dengue and Zika.

The project team gained support from the broader Innisfail community through the Project Advisory Group along with approval from the Australian Government (APVMA), which enabled the study to begin with the first Wolbachia male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes being released from our ‘Mobile Mosquito Unit’ on Wednesday 15 November. Releases are continuing in Mourilyan three times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, for up to 24 weeks.

The Mobile Mosquito Unit doing its rounds in Mourilyan, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Additional releases will begin in South Johnstone and Goondi Bend in the coming week, all going well, followed by central Innisfail including town, Cullinane and Goondi Hill.

We are keen to hear from Mourilyan residents, and those in future study sites, about how they feel about the mosquito releases throughout the study period. Residents we have spoken to are noticing the larger numbers of mozzies buzzing around but do recognise that as we are only releasing males, that our mozzies don’t bite.

It is also important to note that during our two-years of monitoring mosquitoes on the Cassowary Coast we have found over 32 different species of mosquitoes, some that bite, and we encourage all Innisfail residents to continue to protect themselves from all mozzie bites as they normally would.

Residents are encouraged to call 1800 4030 83, email innisfail_project@csiro.au, and/or join the project’s Facebook Group for project updates  CSIRO Innisfail Sterile Male Mozzie Research Project.

What to expect during the releases:

  • Releases will take place three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for up to 24 weeks
  • Releases are already underway in Mourilyan.
  • It is hoped to start releases in South Johnstone and Goondi Bend in the coming week (w/c 4th December)
  • Traps will be checked twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays for the first six weeks in each release site, followed by once a week for the remainder of the study (to June 2018).
  • Approximately 15 sterile males mosquitoes will be released for every wild Aedes aegypti. These figures are based on the numbers found from two years of monitoring in the Innisfail area and are deemed necessary to allow the sterile males to successfully compete with the wild males.
  • Males do not bite, however hang around where the females are.
  • Males only live for three to four days, therefore regular releases are required to make sure there are enough of our sterile mosquitoes in the landscape to out-compete the wild males looking to mate with the wild females.
  • A female can live for approximately 28 days and only mates once in her lifetime. She can lay up to 300 eggs, all of which won’t hatch if one of our sterile males mates with her.
  • We anticipate that as the study progresses and our sterile male mosquitoes start to impact on the wild population, fewer sterile male mosquitoes will be released.
  • We will share our research findings with residents when we have completed the study.

For more information:

About the Debug Innisfail field studies

About the Aedes aegypti mosquito