Taming the tiger: controlling the invasive Asian tiger mosquito

Project Overview

Taming the tiger: using males to control the invasive Asian Tiger mosquito in New York State

The Asian tiger mosquito can carry dengue, zika and chikungunya viruses, and is invasive in New York State. This team is exploring options to interrupt the reproductive cycle of the mosquitoes to control populations.

The Asian tiger mosquito is invasive in New York. In other parts of the world, the mosquito transmits viruses such as dengue, zika and chikungunya that are harmful to human and animal health. Options for controlling mosquitoes are limited, but reproductive control of mosquitoes is promising. As a way to hijack mosquitoes’ own biology to control populations, Laura Harrington, professor of entomology, and her team investigated the functional significance of male-driven semen proteins after transfer to females.

The team’s work with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors did not show any effect on mosquito reproduction, even when deployed in multiple ways. In response, the team shifted its strategy to identify other active components of male semen that could impact female reproduction or survival. After working out these methods to separate proteins and maintain their viability, the team injected them in females and measured their effect on female mating behavior, oviposition, egg development rate and blood feeding frequency.

The Impacts

The team has identified one fraction with a very clear mating refractory effect and two other fractions with an egg production effect. These results are very exciting, and the team is planning to pursue identification of the proteins in these active fractions in the future. Further work is needed, but this is a promising step toward developing “smart insecticides” and other inhibitors that could be used to control Aedes mosquitoes.

Website: Harrington Lab

Laura Harrington portrait

Principal Investigator

Project Details

  • Funding Source: Hatch
  • Statement Year: 2018
  • Status: Completed project
  • Topics: Mosquitos, invasive species, human health