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Mosquito on skin
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If you see a mosquito in this one part of L.A., you might not want to slap it

Tens of thousands of lab-raised mosquitoes have just been released in one neighborhood in L.A.

Anna Rahmanan
Written by
Anna Rahmanan

If you happen to be walking around the northeast edges of the Valley and see a feathery-looking mosquito, worry not: There’s a chance these insects have been lab-raised and released by the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District to curb their population.

The bothersome mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti—you probably know them best as the absolutely annoying “ankle biters”—first showed up in Los Angeles County more than a decade ago. And according to experts, they have grown accustomed to biting humans and carrying pretty dangerous diseases like Zika and yellow fever. 

To combat them, the District has released these lab-raised Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that are all male and therefore non-biting. According to NBC News, they’ve also been sterilized by radiation “so the hope is that they will find wild female mates and impregnate them with dead-end sperm, rendering the resulting eggs worthless.”

Last week, the district set free about 20,000 of these flying vermin and, according to NBC News, plans to release about 60,000 more—per week—through October. 

For now, the pilot program is limited to two areas of Sunland-Tujunga, the Alpine Village and Sevenhills neighborhoods. Over the next few months, the District will set traps in those areas to monitor the effectiveness of the program. There’s no word yet on whether the geographical scope of the pilot program will expand—though obviously these insects can fly around, so don’t be surprised if you happen to see one of them zap around adjacent areas.

male vs. female mosquitoes
Courtesy Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District

The male mosquitos are smaller than females and have feather antennae. These lab-raised ones will also appear fluorescent under a black light—but we imagine you don’t regularly carry one with you. So what should you do if you think you spot one? Nothing, really. Just remember that these non-biting mosquitoes are here to help you scratch yourself a little less this summer—at least if you’re in the Sunland-Tujunga area.

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