Our scientists, in collaboration with international and local partners have been studying mosquitoes and their behaviour on the Cassowary Coast. The team's research efforts are now wholly focused on the invasive Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits the dengue, chikungunya and Zika viruses.

The challenge

Global response to a global problem

Mosquitoes are a global problem that require a global collaborative response. CSIRO has been studying mosquitoes for many years, considering new methods to reduce populations.

CSIRO is excited to start working with Verily (a Google affiliate) and James Cook University to expand our studies in Innisfail to confirm that new technologies will reduce mosquito populations in large urban landscapes.

Our multi-disciplinary team of international biologists, entomologists and social scientists are partnering together to provide a collaborative approach to tackling mosquito-borne viruses.

Our response

Working to remove mosquitoes that can spread dengue and Zika

Our scientists, in collaboration with international and local partners have been studying mosquitoes and their behaviour on the Cassowary Coast since November 2015. The team’s research efforts for 2017/18 are now wholly focused on the invasive Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits the dengue, chikungunya and Zika viruses. This mosquito is only found in urban settings, breeding in and around houses.

The long-term goal of our research is to show that we can suppress and even remove the Aedes aegypti mosquito from the urban landscape. In 2017, we are planning studies on the Cassowary Coast, in far north Queensland that will tell us more about the behaviour of male mosquitoes while also testing new technologies to rear adult sterile male mosquitoes, separate males from females and release male (non-biting) Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. We're helped in our ability to do this by the science conducted at James Cook University, Cairns and the tools that project partner Verily’s engineers are developing in their labs in the USA.

[CSIRO logo appears on screen with text: monitoring mosquitoes in Innisfail]

[Animation of a map of Australia appears on screen with three places labelled Cairns, Innisfail and Townsville. A small section between Cairns and Townsville is marked out with a white line, the dot that Innisfail sits at with another text box saying Cassowary Coast]

[Image changes to show an aerial shot of Innisfail, buildings can be seen either side of a river and connected by a bridge. An animated mosquito flies in from the right above a text box: mosquitoes love tropical climates]

[Image changes to show a line graph indicating the average rainfall and temperatures of each of the months. Text reads: … like Innisfail where it’s wet and hot]

[Image changes to show a shot of the main street, lined with shops and parked cars. Text reads: … and some love to live around people]

[Image changes to show two CSIRO staff members walking the streets together. Text reads: we’ve been studying mosquito numbers since November 2015]

[Image changes to show a small map of Innisfail and surrounding areas appear on the right hand side. Text reads: through a network of traps]

[Image changes to show the male CSIRO staff member seated with another male at an outdoor table and chair setting. Text reads: - thanks to Innisfail residents and business owners]

[Image changes to show the CSIRO staff members setting a trap. Text reads: the GAT trap attracts females ready to lay their eggs – emptied weekly]

[Camera pans out to show more of the extensive trapping system being set by the two CSIRO staff members. Text reads: the BG trap (powered) sucks in nearby mosquitoes – emptied weekly]

[Image changes to show CSIRO staff members working in a laboratory. Text reads: in the lab we studied what we found and asked what species? How Many? What time of year? We found…]

[Image changes to show a line graph detailing the total number of Mosquitoes caught in the GAT trap over a period of time from December 2015 to September 2016. Text reads: over 30 different species of mosquito and a consistent number of Aedes aegypti.]

[New text appears: Aedes aegypti is an invasive species. Two animated mosquitoes appear on screen a smaller one labelled ‘Male’ and a larger one labelled ‘Female’]

[Image changes to two potted plants and a foot being added to the animation. Both mosquitoes land on the foot and the female draws blood, which is shown as a pool of red on the surface of the foot. Text reads: females bite and can transmit diseases like dengue and Zika]

[Image changes to show the male mosquito leaving the foot and flying off and landing on one of the potted plants. Text reads: males don’t bite they feed on nectar]

[Image changes back to show an aerial shot of Innisfail. Text reads: we now plan to study the behaviour of the male Aedes aegypti mosquito]

[CSIRO logo appears with text: www.csiro.au/Innisfail_project]

Monitoring mosquitoes in Innisfail

Proposed field studies in 2017

In mid 2017, we plan to carry out small-scale studies in an isolated area of the Cassowary Coast. We will then identify further communities in the Innisfail area where larger studies involving the release of sterile male mosquitoes may be carried out towards the end of 2017. 

All studies would only proceed following extensive engagement with and support from communities and with government regulatory approval. 

[CSIRO logo appears on screen with text: studying the behaviour of male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes]

[Animation of a map of Australia appears on screen with three places labelled Cairns, Innisfail and Townsville. A small section between Cairns and Townsville is marked out with a white line, the dot that Innisfail sits at with another text box saying Cassowary Coast]

[Image changes to show an aerial shot of Innisfail with animated mosquitoes flying past]

[Image changes to show CSIRO staff checking a GAT trap. Text reads: we’ve been studying mosquito numbers in Innisfail and found…]

[Image changes to show a line graph detailing the total number of Mosquitoes caught in the GAT trap over a period of time from December 2015 to September 2016. Text reads: over 30 different species of mosquito and a consistent number of Aedes aegypti.]

[New text appears: Aedes aegypti is an invasive species. Two animated mosquitoes appear on screen a smaller one labelled ‘Male’ and a larger one labelled ‘Female’]

[Image changes to two potted plants and a foot being added to the animation. Both mosquitoes land on the foot and the female draws blood, which is shown as a pool of red on the surface of the foot. Text reads: females bite and can transmit diseases like dengue and Zika]

[Image changes to show the male mosquito leaving the foot and flying off and landing on one of the potted plants. Text reads: males don’t bite they feed on nectar]

[Image changes to show the animated male mosquito. Text reads: we now plan to study the behaviour of the male Aedes aegypti mosquito. We’re asking how far does he fly? In what time frame? And when does he mate?]

[Image changes back to show the earlier animation of the two mosquitoes on the foot]

[Image changes to show a GAT trap with a number of mosquitoes inside. Text reads: Our plan: We mark the male mosquitoes by feeding them a dye, honey and dye]

[Image changes to show a man viewing slides under a microscope. Text reads: … that we can see under a microscope but not with the naked eye]

[Image changes to show an aerial shot of houses and roads. Text reads: with residents’ support...]

[Image changes to show the aerial shot becoming an animation and a GAT Trap appears on the left hand side of the screen. Text reads: we set a network of traps across a small cluster of houses]

[Image changes to show a seal being pulled from a small container. Text reads: we release the dyed male mosquitoes from the street]

[Image changes back to show the previous animation, pink dots representing the mosquitoes disperse and land in various houses. Text reads: day 1]

[Image changes to show the pink dots moving to different locations within the animation. Text reads: day 2]

[Image changes to show pink dots moving to different locations within the animation. Text reads: day 3]

[Image changes to show CSIRO staff recapturing the mosquitoes into traps. Text reads: we recapture the mosquitoes in our traps, emptied daily]

[Image changes to show CSIRO staff meeting with two residents: Text reads: our plan will only proceed with support. Our team will be visiting neighbourhoods to talk to residents]

[Image changes back to show an aerial shot of Innisfail. Text reads: If the MRR study is successful the next stage of our work may involve a release of sterile male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes]

[CSIRO logo appears with text: www.csiro.au/Innisfail_project]

Studying the behaviour of mosquitoes

Follow the current progress of our work at FAQs - Silkwood field studies

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