Guidance for Evaluating the Safety of Experimental Releases of Mosquitoes, Emphasizing Mark-Release-Recapture Techniques

Mark Q. Benedict, J. Derek Charlwood, Laura C. Harrington, L. Philip Lounibos, William Reisen, Walter J. Tabachnick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Experimental releases of mosquitoes are performed to understand characteristics of populations related to the biology, ability to transmit pathogens, and ultimately their control. In this article, we discuss considerations related to the safety of experimental releases of living mosquitoes, applying principles of good practice in vector biology that protect human health and comfort. We describe specific factors of experimental releases of mosquitoes that we believe are critical to inform institutional biosafety committees and similar review boards to which proposals to conduct mosquito release experiments have been submitted. In this study, "experimental releases" means those that do not significantly increase vector capacity or nuisance biting relative to the unperturbed natural baseline. This document specifically does not address releases of mosquitoes for ongoing control programs or trials of new control methods for which broader assessments of risk are required. It also does not address releases of transgenic or exotic (non-native) mosquito species, both of which require particular regulatory approval. Experimental releases may include females and males and evaluation must consider their effects based on the number released, their genotype and phenotype, the environment into which they are released, and postrelease collection activities. We consider whether increases of disease transmission and nuisance biting might result from proposed experimental releases against the backdrop of natural population size variation. We recommend that experimental releases be conducted in a manner that can be reasonably argued to have insignificant negative effects. Reviewers of proposals for experimental releases should expect applicants to provide such an argument based on evidence from similar studies and their planned activities. This document provides guidance for creating and evaluating such proposals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-48
Number of pages10
JournalVector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • biosafety
  • disease vector
  • ecology
  • population biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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