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Haleakalā National Park plans to reduce mosquito population to save endangered honeycreepers

ʻiʻiwi honeycreeper
David Yates
An ʻiʻiwi on 'iliahi (Haleakalā Sandalwood) in Hosmer Grove.

Haleakalā National Park seeks public input for their recently published environmental assessment to suppress the population of mosquitoes.

The National Park Service plans on releasing anywhere between 50 and 6,000 infertile male mosquitoes per acre to reduce avian malaria on Maui. The mosquitoes will be released using drones.

Avian malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases are the biggest causes of the population decline of native birds — particularly honeycreepers.

The plan involves releasing male southern house mosquitoes carrying a bacteria known as Wolbachia. This bacteria already exist on Maui and makes reproduction difficult.

Southern house mosquitoes fly in higher elevations and cooler environments. Endangered honeycreepers are driven to higher elevations due to urbanization.

Male mosquitoes do not bite animals or humans. The environmental assessment says the bacteria does not transmit between animals and humans.

NPS will host virtual public meetings on Jan. 3 and Jan. 5 to explain their plans.

Zoe Dym is a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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