Mosquito Control Methods
Humans have been trying to eliminate mosquitoes from their living areas for millennia. Although some larger-scale approaches have reduced mosquito-borne diseases in urban areas, most control methods target small, localized infestations and are less effective for broad-scale, inaccessible areas.
Our forest birds inhabit areas characterized by extensive, remote, and difficult-to-reach high-elevation forests. This means that a number of these methods are not practical to implement and may have adverse effects.
Available Options for Mosquito Control
Spraying Chemical Insecticides
Broadscale application of chemical insecticides in Hawaiian forested areas could harm native species, watersheds, and human health.
Deploying lethal “ovitraps” containing an insecticide is impractical across a vast, inaccessible landscape. If left in place for more than a few weeks, these traps can become breeding grounds and cause an increase in mosquito populations.
Mosquito Habitat Reduction
Mosquito habitat reduction is impractical in Hawaiʻi’s multi-layered forests, which contain micro-pools for breeding mosquitoes.
Biological Insecticides Targeting Mosquito Larvae
Biological insecticides are commercially available for small or point-source control of mosquito larvae. However, effective landscape-scale application is difficult due to highly variable environmental conditions and dense forest habitat.
Incompatible Insect Technique (Wolbachia-incompatible male mosquitoes)
This is the mosquito control method being used in Hawaiʻi to help protect the Hawaiian honeycreeper from the spread of avian malaria. This method was chosen because of its ability to be used at a landscape-scale with minimal impact to the environment.
Follow the links below for more information about the Incompatible Insect Technique and the worldwide use of Wolbachia to control mosquito populations.
While this project does not use genetic modification, researchers around the world, including scientists at the University of Hawai‘i, are studying the potential of genetic techniques to protect human health and native species from the impacts of mosquitoes.
Just like with Wolbachia IIT, genetic control strategies must carefully consider ways to ensure project safety and need to be registered with federal and state agencies before use.
Any future projects in Hawai‘i that utilize genetic technology would will require public engagement and input.