mosquitos

Lovebugs, termites, mosquitoes, cockroaches – there is no doubt that Florida is home to many insects, and they seem to thrive in the state's hot, humid conditions.

You can’t avoid them, so this week on Florida Matters we’re talking about how to deal with them.


Scientists have launched a major new phase in the testing of a controversial genetically modified organism: a mosquito designed to quickly spread a genetic mutation lethal to its own species, NPR has learned.

For the first time, researchers have begun large-scale releases of the engineered insects, into a high-security laboratory in Terni, Italy.

"This will really be a breakthrough experiment," says Ruth Mueller, an entomologist who runs the lab. "It's a historic moment."

People who live in the Florida Keys have been waiting for years to find out whether the island chain will be the first place in the U.S. to try genetically modified mosquitoes as a method of controlling the pests.

They're going to have to wait awhile longer.

Flickr Creative Commons

With most of the cases concentrated in Southwest and Southeast Florida, the state has received reports of at least 84 cases of the mosquito-borne Zika virus this year, according to the Florida Department of Health website. 

Monday a new human case of the West Nile Virus infection was confirmed in Duval County.

Flickr Creative Commons

A recently published study suggests medicine used to kill fleas and ticks in household pets might be effective at stopping mosquito-borne outbreaks in humans. 

Florida has not had any locally transmitted cases of Zika so far in 2017. And the number of travel-related cases has fallen drastically in the dry season.

But tests of new mosquito-fighting methods are still moving forward in the Florida Keys.

The first U.S. trial of genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes — the kind that carries Zika and dengue fever — is still on track for the Keys, just not on Key Haven. That's the island that Oxitec, the company that makes the genetically modified mosquito, chose for its test site.

News of four recent cases of Zika acquired by mosquito bites in neighborhoods north of downtown Miami was not received with concern by owners and patrons of restaurants and bars in the popular area of Wynwood. 

 

 

  A survey of households in Key Haven, the neighborhood proposed for the first U.S. trial of genetically modified mosquitoes, found a majority of respondents opposed to the test.

Researchers from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore sent surveys to every household in the neighborhood.