How plants, worms and 'assassin mosquitoes' may make your time outside more enjoyable

SPRING, Texas (KTRK) -- Instead of pesticides, Harris County Precinct 4 continues its fight against mosquitoes using an "assassin" insect.

A trek through heavy brush is what crews will be doing for the next several months.

They are visiting targeted areas with special equipment, and unique insects.

Anita Schiller leads a team that has bred and developed the insects from egg to adult.

Hopefully, the insect will help solve the mosquito problem.

"The prey consumption rate is between 100 and 2,600 and up to 4,000 prey mosquitoes," Schiller said.

It is an issue Schiller's team has worked on because mosquitoes can carry deadly diseases.

While the mosquito assassins work, Schiller said using them isn't easy. In order to raise them, you have to painstakingly separate every larvae.

"We have an 80 percent survival rate, where if we put them all together we would have no more than a 10 percent survival," Schiller said.

Collecting data hasn't been easy.

The Precinct 4 facility flooded three times, including during Hurricane Harvey.

With a new building, comes new hope with its latest study.

This bug isn't the only natural mosquito killer they're trying.

Officials are also exploring carnivorous plants.

"The trigger hair gets touched, triggered, like a booby trap and the trap opens up and sucks in that process," Schiller said.

"It is ready to reproduce so it wants to come out and find a mate, and it does that by rupturing the cuticle and bursting out," Schiller said.

For now, Schiller's team is focused on the woods.

The study will last into October.

Crews will release 400 insects a week and collect samples each time.

The traps will show if the amount of mosquitoes are declining.

If they do, this method could soon help everyone minimize the mosquito problem.

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