Why Are Thousands of Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes Taking Florida by Storm?

Photo Courtesy: TEK IMAGE-SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty Images; Joao Paulo Burini/Moment/Getty Images; Paul Starosta/Stone/Getty Images

In the middle of May of 2021, thousands of mosquito eggs hatched in the Florida Keys. They weren't just any old mosquitoes, though; these perennial pests aren’t the summertime nuisances — and disease vectors — we know their siblings to be. Instead, these Floridian hatchlings were genetically modified as part of a federally approved experiment to test whether specific types of genetic engineering in insects can work better than insecticides to control populations of disease-carrying mosquitoes — and subsequently lower disease transmission rates. Florida residents haven’t been too keen on the experiment though, as the thought of thousands of new mosquitoes in the area, regardless of how helpful they could be, is still an unpleasant one. But these Frankenbugs may hold an interesting key to improving public health.