Does a video on social media show a genetically modified (GM) mosquito with a number stamped on it? No, that's not true: An insect expert at the University of Wisconsin-Madison said the bug shown in the video "does not appear to be a mosquito." He added that the markings on the insect are "almost certainly natural," not manmade.
BILL GATES is to blame for releasing millions of GMO mosquitoes into the public.. the more you know.
This is what the post looked like on Instagram at the time of the writing of this fact check:
(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Mon Mar 20 16:17:40 2023 UTC)
Not a mosquito
In a March 20, 2023, email, Patrick (PJ) Liesch, director of the UW-Madison Insect Diagnostic Lab, said, "the insect does not appear to be a mosquito," but added he couldn't " pin down a definitive ID." He continued:
[T]he insect does remind me of certain "true bugs" (Order Hemiptera). Please note that mosquitoes are considered "true flies" and belong to a very different group (Order Diptera). In the video, the individual appears to fold the insect's wings forward, which indicates it's an adult insect. The "plant bugs" (Family Mirdidae) ... did come to mind as a possibility. Some of the other features remind me of certain aphids (Family Aphididae) which might also be a possibility.
Natural, not stamped
In his email, Liesch said, "The markings are almost certainly natural." The video suggests the numbers are stamped on the bugs. Liesch said that's not the case:
I mentioned certain aphids as a possibility and some aphids can have dark markings/patterns on the dorsal surface of their abdomen. ... This brings to mind the concept of pareidolia, where humans perceive meaningful patterns from visual stimuli (such as shapes of clouds, etc.).
(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Mon Mar 20 17:36 2023 UTC)
Asked about GM mosquitos and numbering, Liesch said, "I am not aware of any such efforts."
There are such things as GM mosquitoes. Genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, also known as the yellow fever mosquito, have been released in parts of Florida and Texas in an effort to control the spread of viruses like dengue, Zika, and chikungunya, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While these mosquitoes do carry a fluorescent marker, they are not numbered. The CDC website explains the program:
(Source: CDC website screenshot taken on Mon Mar 20 18:09:47 2023 UTC)
These are examples of what the Aedes aegypti mosquito looks like. The images were found in a Google search. Its appearance is much different than the insect in the social media video:
(Source: Google screenshot taken on Mon Mar 20 18:09:47 2023 UTC)
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has helped fund related research in using mosquitoes to control disease. It has invested tens of millions of dollars in the Target Malaria project. But, ultimately, Bill Gates would not be responsible for "releasing millions of GMO mosquitoes into the public" as the post on Instagram suggests.
Other Lead Stories fact checks about Bill Gates can be found here.
Other Lead Stories fact checks about mosquitoes can be found here.