Fighting dengue: What is Project Wolbachia and how are mosquitoes made?
With over 10,000 dengue cases in the first five months of this year, we take a look inside the National Environment Agency’s (NEA) mosquito factory, where Wolbachia-Aedes mosquitoes are bred to help fight dengue.
What is Project Wolbachia?
When the male Wolbachia-Aedes mosquitoes mate with female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that do not carry the bacteria, the resulting eggs do not hatch. This reduces the number of Aedes mosquitoes. Male Wolbachia-Aedes mosquitoes do not bite or transmit disease.
How mozzies are made
1. Adult Wolbachia-Aedes mosquitoes mate in the facility’s insectary and lay eggs.
6. The pupae are kept in tubes where they grow into adults. The tubes are then brought to estates around Singapore, where the mosquitoes are released
By the numbers
- About 200 million Wolbachia-Aedes aegypti mosquitoes have been bred at NEA’s facility since 2019
- About 1.5 to 2 million Wolbachia-Aedes mosquitoes are released every week
- They have been released around 160,000 homes, including about 1,800 HDB blocks across study sites in Yishun, Tampines, Choa Chu Kang and Bukit Batok towns, and 5 sq km of a landed estate in Marine Parade
- 3 to 4 months: How long it takes for these mosquitoes to actually have an impact on the dengue figures
- 150 mosquitoes contained in each tube
- Up to 88 per cent reduction in dengue cases at some Project Wolbachia study sites