Scientists will battle mosquito population by releasing 20 million of them

Sterile mosquitoes will be used to curtail the population of the insects in California.

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Sterile mosquitoes will be used to curtail the population of the insects in California.

Mosquitoes are an annoying pest, particularly during the summer. Now, scientists in California are working to shrink the population of the pesky insects that carry disease.

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How? The scientists will be releasing 20 million of them in California.

If that sounds counterproductive, there is a method behind it. The plan is to release millions of sterile male mosquitoes, which will then mate with females, NPR reported. The eggs the females lay won't hatch, according to researchers.

The project is called Debug Fresno, and scientists said the goal is to trim the population of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes -- the species responsible for the Zika virus, dengue and chikungunya, NPR reported. The species has been a nuisance in California's Central Valley since 2013, particularly in Fresno County.

"It's a terrible nuisance, a terrible biting nuisance. It's changed the way people can enjoy their backyard and it's a threat for disease transmission," Steve Mulligan of Fresno County's Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District told The Washington Post.

Each week for 20 weeks, the company plans to release 1 million of the sterile, non-biting male mosquitoes in two neighborhoods in Fresno County.

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