The scientists inject mosquito eggs with wolbachia bacteria in a laboratory, then release infected male mosquitoes on the island on the outskirts of the city of Guangzhou.
The bacteria, which occurs naturally in about 28 percent of wild mosquitoes, causes infected males to sterilize the females they mate with.
“The aim is trying to suppress the mosquito density below the threshold which can cause disease transmission,” said Zhiyong Xi, who is director of the Sun Yat-sen University Centre of Vector Control for Tropical Diseases and pioneered the idea.
“There are hot spots,” Xi said. “This technology can be used at the beginning to target the hot spots … it will dramatically reduce disease transmission.”
Mosquito-borne diseases are responsible for more than one million deaths worldwide every year and Zika has become a concern for athletes at this year’s Olympic Games, which open in Rio de Janeiro on Friday.