The Aedes aegypti mosquito. WIKIPEDIA/Contributed

Another round of genetically modified mosquitoes will be released in the Florida Keys. 

Oxitec and Florida Key Mosquito Control District announced a new phase of the project (“Pilot D”) will be initiated on or after July 7.

The next phase of Oxitec’s project will examine single-point releases of Oxitec’s male mosquitoes. Specifically Pilot D will see the placing of Oxitec’s just-add-water mosquito boxes on private property of volunteer residents in three release areas: Vaca Key, Fat Deer Key and Grassy Key. Untreated comparison sites will be monitored with mosquito traps on Vaca Key, Colony Beach, Duck Key and Conch Key.

The 2022 project launched with Pilot B during the week of May 9, with the placement of Oxitec’s mosquito boxes on private property of volunteer residents in three release areas, all on Vaca Key. Untreated comparison sites are monitored with mosquito traps on Key Colony Beach and Vaca Key.

“After a successful project in 2021, we are thrilled to be getting back to work with our close partners at Oxitec during 2022,” said Andrea Leal, Executive Director of the FKMCD during the release in May. “We made significant progress during the pilot project last year and we look forward to continuing this important work during this year’s mosquito season.” 

Last March,  the Environmental Protection Agency granted an extension of the Experimental Use Permit (EUP) for the continuation of Oxitec and FKMCD’s pilot project. Following this national-level approval, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), reviewed and approved Oxitec’s state-level permit applications.

For the first part of this pilot project in 2021, Oxitec released a little less than five million male, non-biting mosquitoes. The maximum number of non-biting male Oxitec mosquitoes released during the entire 2022 project is expected to be fewer than seven million.

Oxitec said its safe, sustainable and targeted biological pest control technology is harmless to beneficial insects like bees and butterflies and is proven to control the disease transmitting Aedes aegypti mosquito, which has invaded communities in Florida and beyond.

To date, FKMCD and Oxitec hosted 18 public webinars on the pilot project, mosquitoes and public health. The webinars are available to watch on keysmosquitoproject.com/resources.