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A Mosquito Free World?

April 10, 2014

Summer is coming, and with it, hordes of blood-sucking mosquitos will begin their yearly feast. For those of us in the US, well, except for the 5,000 or so that are unlucky enough to be infected with West Nile Virus each year, the worst we can expect is an itchy bump, but for much of the world, mosquitos carrying malaria are responsible for thousands of deaths. Usually, folks aren’t too keen on eliminating entire species, but it just might be the case that mosquitos do so much more harm than good, that eradicating them would be worth the environmental toll.

I just heard a story on Radio Lab about researchers who have the technology to do just that, and no, it’s not a new insecticide, or a weird futuristic robot. Genetically altered mosquitos would be responsible for their own species’ demise. Basically, scientists release tens of thousands of altered male mosquitos into the wild, they mate with females. The genetic anomaly that the males pass on makes it impossible for the offspring to live, though. So, in just a couple of years, no more mosquitos.

Of course, environmentalists are going to have a lot to say about the prospect of killing all the mosquitos in the world, and maybe they’re right, but just take a minute to imagine a bug-free summer. Ahhh.

Check out the full (SUPER fascinating) story here on Radio Lab.

Image from Waynoblog

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