Our scientists, in collaboration with international and local partners, are implementing a new approach to disease control by studying the behaviour of male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in Far North Queensland. This will help identify ways to reduce the wild population of mosquitoes to prevent transmission of diseases.

The challenge

Global response to a global problem

Mosquitoes are a global problem that requires 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

Mark, Release, Recapture study

CSIRO’s mission is to use science to deliver innovative solutions that benefit Australia and the world.

Working with Verily through its ‘Debug Project’ and James Cook University, Cairns, the project is developing a Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) for mosquito control and looking to progress research from the lab to the field to confirm that new technologies will reduce mosquito populations in large urban landscapes.

[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

The results

Results of the Mark Release Recapture Study

With support from all residents in the study site we released approximately 1000 marked male mosquitoes on a stretch of Mourilyan Road in East Innisfail, on 16th and 25th November and 5th December.

CSIRO scientist holding a mosquito trap

Our scientists are helping to set mosquito traps around Innisfail as part of a planned MRR study.

  • The community was supportive of our research – and very keen to help. A network of over 70 traps was set up across the study site in resident’s yards.
  • Initial results from the study showed us that;
    • On average the male mosquitoes mostly flew less than 100m (and they did cross the road, but preferred not to) while the occasional male flew up to twice that distance.
    • The males released mated quickly (in the first two days after release) as females marked with the dye (which is transferred from the males when they mate) were found right across the trap network over the following week.
  • We are continuing to analyse the data to better understand the behaviour of male and female mosquitoes and will share the full results when finalised.
  • There will be no more releases for the MRR study and all BG traps have now been removed. We appreciate the support of residents and may return to East Innisfail to conduct further studies in 2017.

Proposed studies in 2017

The long-term goal of our research in Innisfail is to show that we can suppress and even remove the invasive Aedes aegypti mosquito from the urban landscape. In 2017, we hope to carry out studies in Innisfail that will involve releasing sterile male mosquitoes and testing tools. We’re helped in our ability to do this by the science conducted at James Cook University, Cairns and the tools that Verily’s engineers are developing in their labs in the USA. These studies would only proceed following extensive engagement with and support from the Innisfail community and with government regulatory approval. See FAQsReleasing sterile males.

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