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Why Hawaii might release millions of mosquitos in Maui

Story at a glance


  • Several of Hawaii’s native bird species are at risk of going extinct, in part because of the spread of avian malaria.


  • On Thursday, National Park Service officials announced they would move forward with a plan to reduce the transmission of avian malaria to threatened and endangered forest birds by suppressing invasive mosquito populations.


  • The idea is to use an incompatible insect technique (IIT) which consists of repeatedly releasing incompatible male mosquitoes into the wild to reduce the reproductive potential of female mosquitoes in the project area.


HONOLULU (KHON) – Millions of mosquitoes could soon be released on the Hawaiian island of Maui to prevent several native bird species from going extinct.

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On Thursday, National Park Service officials announced they would move forward with a plan to reduce the transmission of avian malaria to threatened and endangered forest birds by suppressing invasive mosquito populations. As NPS explained, the idea is to use an incompatible insect technique (IIT) which consists of repeatedly releasing incompatible male mosquitoes into the wild to reduce the reproductive potential of female mosquitoes in the project area.

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The environmental assessment for the project was available for public review between Dec. 6, 2022, and Jan. 23, 2023, with a total of 853 pieces of correspondence received.

On Friday, the state’s Board of Land and Natural Resources heard emotional testimony, and unanimously voted to move forward with the IIT plan as well.

Experts explained that female mosquitoes have been transmitting avian malaria to Hawaii’s native birds for decades, and now, as temperatures rise, mosquitoes are moving higher up mountains and infecting the birds.

Bret Mossman, an avian technician for the Hawaii Island Natural Area Reserve System, testified on Friday, saying he’s seen the damage these mosquitos can do first-hand.