Google's Verily robots release millions of mosquitos in California

Verily’s automated mosquito-rearing system at its factory in South San Francisco California

Verily’s automated mosquito-rearing system at its factory in South San Francisco California

Verily plans to release about 1 million mosquitoes a week over a 20-week period in two 300-acre neighborhoods in the Fresno area - the largest us release to date of mosquitoes infected with the Wolbachia bacteria.

Here's what Verily is planning to do - Verily's male mosquitos that are infected with the Wolbachia bacteria (that is harmless to humans) will infect female mosquitos and make their eggs incapable of producing offspring.

If all goes according to plan, given short life cycles, the number of skeeters will soon plummet - and scientists will study the ecological impact.

It is an effective vector for carrying diseases like dengue fever, Zika and chikungunya. It's certainly worth a swat.

With Debug Fresno, the Debug Project and Verily are testing a "potential mosquito control method using sterile insect technique".

Bonus, male mosquitoes don't bite, so Fresno residents won't have to worry about itching more than they usually would.

Aedes aegypti was first spotted in central California in 2013.

Once the release has been accomplished, the Verily team will compare the adult population and egg hatching rates in the trial areas to two control neighborhoods.

The release process will be done through vans, software algorithms, and on-the-ground release devices that will evenly distribute the mosquitoes in a targeted fashion.

For any residents anxious about a sudden increase in mosquitos during the trial, it is worth noting that males do not bite or transmit disease to humans. The Fresno project will be the biggest U.S. release of sterile mosquitoes to date, Verily says.

The study will take place over a 20-week period. A similar pilot was performed by CMAD and MosquitoMate back in 2016, but with the help of Verily, the new experiment involves 25 times more mosquitoes. Over time, we hope to see a steep decline in the presence of Aedes aegypti in these communities.

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