The southern Chinese city of Guangzhou is known for its picturesque setting on the Pearl River Delta, the soaring Canton Tower, and now a mosquito factory.
Yes, that’s a factory that breeds real, bloodsucking Asian tiger mosquitos. It’s located in a nondescript building in a sprawling “science park” and filled with millions of the pesky insect.
But don’t worry: The winged critters produced here are part of an experiment that aims to ease summer nuisances, not make them worse.
The factory’s male mosquitos are first infected with a strain of a bacterium called Wolbachia, developed over a number of years by Chinese scientist Zhiyong Xi. Batches of mosquitos are then released into the wild in an area on a small island 60 kilometers away. When they mate with females, the resulting eggs are sterile — halting the life cycle of the much-maligned insect.
A recently released study found that the experiment reduced the local population of Asian tiger mosquitos, officially known as “Aedes albopictus,” by up to 94%, potentially marking a huge step forward for controlling mosquito populations and combatting the diseases they carry, such as dengue fever and Zika.
Stay tuned for Caixin’s look at the factory, the experiment, and the possible future of mosquito control.
Contact reporter Ren Qiuyu (email@example.com)