Google Research

Learning to count mosquitoes for the Sterile Insect Technique

Proceedings of the 23nd ACM SIGKDD International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining (2017)


Mosquito-borne illnesses such as dengue, chikungunya, and Zika are major global health problems, which are not yet addressable with vaccines and must be countered by reducing mosquito popula- tions. The Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) is a promising alternative to pesticides; however, effective SIT relies on minimal releases of female insects. This paper describes a multi-objective convolutional neural net to significantly streamline the process of counting male and female mosquitoes released from a SIT factory and provides a statistical basis for verifying strict contamination rate limits from these counts despite measurement noise. These results are a promis- ing indication that such methods may dramatically reduce the cost of effective SIT methods in practice.

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