Google's Verily robots release millions of mosquitos in California

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The same program is now in effect in the Florida Keys, where officials are bringing in 40,000 mosquitoes a week from Kentucky - each infected with the Wolbachia bacteria as well - to fight the population. The first groups of 20 million sterilized mosquitoes have already been released in Fresno County, California. Verily's mosquitoes, all male, are infected with a type of bacteria (Wolbachia) that makes females' eggs unable to produce offspring.

Researchers from Verily, MosquitoMate - a private biotechnology company - and Fresno County's mosquito control services, Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District (CMAD), will compare the adult population density and number of eggs hatched to measure any changes. The project's target is the aedes aegypti mosquito population, as it is the species of mosquito responsible for spreading diseases such as dengue fever, Zika virus, and chikungunya.

This effort is not new with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation using the same Wolbachia bacterium in their philanthropic efforts, but Verily has been able to increase the release scale by 25x due to automated mass rearing machines (via Bloomberg) and sex-sorting processes developed in-house at the Alphabet 'bet'.

The release of the treated male insects in Fresno is the largest such field trial in the date.

In addition, on-the-ground release devices also allow the mosquitos to be released in an "even and targeted way" during the breeding season.

Scientists in Fresno, California, have a plan to reduce the mosquito population: by dumping a million of them into the environment every week.

Debug Fresno will take place over a 20-week period in two neighborhoods each approximately 300 acres in size.

Over time, the team hopes to see a dramatic reduction in Aedes aegypti.



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