A breakthrough technique harnessing two methods to target disease-carrying mosquitoes was able to effectively eradicate buzzing biters in two test sites in China, according to research published on Thursday.
The mosquitoes targeted are a type that is particularly difficult to control called Aedes albopictus—more popularly known as the Asian tiger mosquito—which are a major vector for diseases including Zika and dengue.
The study "demonstrates the potential of a potent new tool", wrote Peter Armbruster, a professor at Georgetown University's department of biology, in a review of the work.
Researchers harnessed two population control methods: the use of radiation—which effectively sterilises mosquitoes—and a strain of bacteria called Wolbachia that leaves mosquito eggs dead on arrival.
They conducted a two-year trial at two sites on river islands in Guangzhou, where Asian tiger mosquitoes are to blame for the highest dengue transmission rate in China.
The results were "remarkable", wrote Armbruster: the number of hatched mosquitoes eggs plunged by 94 percent, with not a single viable egg recorded for up to 13 weeks in some cases.