A newly introduced larvae to control dengue has been released to the environment and they are getting used to the urban areas, Director of the Entomology and Parasitology Unit of the Medical Research Institute (MRI) Dr. Sagarika Samarasinghe told Daily Mirror yesterday.
She said, this larva called Toxorhynchites splendens was identified in 1911 in the world and used by different countries to control the spread of dengue with different success rates.
"The group headed by me started establishing the Toxorhynchites splendens colony in 2016. This is a tough research and therefore we can’t do it overnight. We have released these larvae to the environment several times without publicizing it, and this is the end result of the hard work and research conducted at the Medical Research Institute (MRI)," the doctor said.
Toxorhynchites splendens is about 19mm long and has a bluish-white metallic colour with a lifespan of 3 months. They mainly suck honey and plant juice. These larvae do not suck blood as their Proboscis has bent 90 degrees backwards. Therefore, no harm would be caused to humans. Their larva stage lasts for 5 weeks and this may exceed in cold climates.
These species are much bigger than the ordinary mosquitoes and are also called "elephant mosquito" or "mosquito eater". It is crucial to mention that these larvae are not herbivorous but carnivorous. These mosquitoes lay their eggs while flying. Hence, they can lay their eggs in places where we cannot reach and can consume dengue larvae in the hidden places," she said.
Dr. Samarasinghe categorically emphasized not to depend on this method alone as it will not be sufficient to wholly eliminate the dengue (Sheain Fernandopulle)