WOLBACHIA is a natural bacterium present in up to 60 per cent of insects, including some mosquitoes.
However, it is not usually found in the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is the primary species responsible for transmitting human viruses such as dengue, chikungunya and Zika.
When male mosquitoes infected with the Wolbachia bacterium mate with the female Aedes mosquito, the female mosquitoes will produce eggs which won’t hatch into larvae.
When male mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia mate with female Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes they will produce Wolbachia bacteria-infected eggs.
When female mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia mate with male mosquitoes without the Wolbachia bacteria, the eggs produced will turn into larvae which will have the bacteria, thus reducing Aedes mosquitoes.
Wolbachia bacteria cannot be passed to humans as it is too big to travel down the salivary gland ducts of a mosquito.
Research has shown that when introduced into the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the Wolbachia bacteria can stop these viruses from growing inside the mosquito and be transmitted to people. This important discovery has the potential to transform the fight against life-threatening viral diseases.
The Subang Jaya Municipal Council has initiated the toxorhynchites (toxo) mosquito programme.
Toxo mosquitoes, also known as “elephant mosquitoes”, eat other mosquito larvae, including the Aedes, at its larval stage.
They will also eat their own larvae if there is no other mosquito larvae available.
Adult toxo mosquitoes feed on plant nectar, and not blood, and are harmless to humans.
It would take a few years for the toxo mosquitoes to live and breed naturally.
There are two phases in the programme. The first phase will see a decrease in Aedes mosquitoes, and the second involves the toxo mosquitoes breeding naturally in the area.
The mosquitoes are not genetically modified and they originate from tropical forests.