In Hawaii, mosquitoes are used to save rare birds from extinction flickr.com/USFWS – Pacific Region

In Hawaii, mosquitoes are used to save rare birds from extinction

Anna Velyka

It will be possible to find out about the effectiveness of such measures in the summer

In Hawaii, millions of mosquitoes are being released from helicopters to save rare endemic birds, the Hawaiian honeycreeper, from extinction due to malaria.

The Guardian reports on this unusual way to save the birds.

The birds are dying from malaria carried by mosquitoes first introduced on European and American ships in the 1800s. Since Hawaiian honeybees did not have time to evolve along with the malaria virus, they have very little immunity to it.

The publication reports that 33 native honeybee species have gone extinct, and many of the 17 remaining species are endangered, with fears that some could disappear within a year if no action is taken.

Conservationists say the population of one honeybee species, the kauaiki, has declined from 450 in 2018 to 5 in 2023, with only one bird left in the wild on Kaua'i Island, according to the National Park Service.

In order to save endemic birds, scientists use the method of incompatible insects. It consists of releasing male mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia bacteria, which prevent the eggs of wild females they mate with from hatching. This bacterium naturally lives in most insects, which can only produce viable offspring with partners that share the same strain of Wolbachia.

Since female mosquitoes mate only once, using infected male mosquitoes reduces the population size.

Scientists release 250,000 insects from helicopters every week. Thus, 10 million males with the bacterium Wolbachia were settled on remote islands of the archipelago.

Scientists say that there is experience of successful application of this method in China and Mexico. Similar programs are held in California and Florida. Scientists hope to see the effectiveness of this program in the summer, when mosquito populations typically peak.

In May, EcoPolitic reported that the war in Ukraine has had a significant impact on its birdlife: some species of birds may disappear forever, and eagles whose migration routes pass through our country have changed them to avoid the war zone.

Related
Details of the EU's ambitious plan to restore nature by 2050 revealed
Details of the EU's ambitious plan to restore nature by 2050 revealed

This is the first law that provides for measures not only to preserve, but also to reproduce nature

"One of the greatest wonders of nature": scientists discover insect highway
"One of the greatest wonders of nature": scientists discover insect highway

Small creatures use it every year during migration

If the world does not make peace with nature, there will be even more wars, – UN summit chairman
If the world does not make peace with nature, there will be even more wars, – UN summit chairman

She is sure that world institutions must be reformed in order to face global challenges

The world celebrates the International Day for Biological Diversity
The world celebrates the International Day for Biological Diversity

With the beginning of a full-scale invasion, unprecedented challenges appeared before Ukraine, because entire ecosystems with their inhabitants were destroyed by hostilities