Earlier this week, we discussed using a virus to control an animal population, but this is a case of using an animal to control a virus. In Cambodia, there was a brief yearlong study examining dengue reduction by placing guppies in the barrels where families keep their household water. The theory being tested is that guppies, a low cost solution, would eat Aedes mosquito larvae that would normally develop in the barrels and thus would be a way to limit the number of these dengue spreading mosquitoes in the region. In this study, a 46% reduction in Aedes mosquitoes was seen (NY Times).
But, as with any introduction of an organism to control a disease outbreak, there are concerns with this nonnative species proliferating in the environment. What concerns Rana El-Sabaawi, a University of Victoria ecologist, and other ecologists is that these fish are “hearty and fertile, [survive] in relatively polluted water, [reproduce] often, and [give] birth to fast-growing, live young,” and could easily become an invasive species in areas where they are deployed. Furthermore, they contend that guppies are not all that effective at managing Aedes larvae, as preliminary studies did not reproduce natural conditions for the guppies and may have starved them before being studied (Science).
- Devon Z