Sterile Insect Techniques (SITs) are way to control insects, including some types of mosquitoes. In the United States, SIT for mosquito control is relatively new. SITs have been used in the United States and around the world since the 1950s to control insect pests. For example, SITs have been used to control Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly) in Southern California. SIT was also used to eradicate (get rid of) screwworm flies in North and Central America.
How does it work?
SIT targets specific types or species of mosquitoes (such as Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus). SITs for mosquitoes involve three steps: mass production of mosquitoes, sorting males from females, then mass release of sterile male mosquitoes into an area.
Male mosquitoes do not bite. Male mosquitoes do not spread diseases.
To be successful, the male SIT mosquitoes released into an area must largely outnumber wild male mosquitoes. Once released, sterile male mosquitoes mate with wild females, and because of sterility, no offspring are produced. Over time, the numbers of the targeted mosquito species in the area are reduced.
SIT mosquitoes cannot reproduce in the wild. Therefore, once SIT male mosquitoes stop being released into an area, the specific species of mosquito being targeted will, over time, return to normal.
Male mosquitoes do not bite people or animals. They feed on nectar. Therefore, people living in the release area will not be bitten more than usual.
SITs for mosquito control can be used as part of an integrated vector management approach. SIT may be a preferred way to reduce numbers of mosquitoes in areas where use of insecticides is not possible, not supported by a community, or where insecticide-resistance has reduced the effectiveness of insecticides.
Sterile Insect Technique in San Gabriel Valley
The San Gabriel Valley Mosquito & Vector Control District supports the evaluation and research of SIT. Federal and State regulatory agencies will determine the safety of innovative approaches in California. Our agency may evaluate the use of these technologies only after its been approved.
Invasive Aedes mosquitoes can become very resistant to household use of pesticides. This means if there's an outbreak due to Aedes mosquitoes, a public health emergency response will be limited with the existing tools we have. That is why SIT does well: What better way to target mosquitoes than other mosquitoes?
Currently, no mosquitoes are being released using SIT in San Gabriel Valley.