AG NEWS
AG NEWS

Mosquito Control a Must This Summer

  • Jun 25, 2015
When thinking of the number one enemy to humans, a fierce animal at the top of the food chain probably appears in most people’s minds. However, each year mosquitoes claim the lives of more people than wolves, sharks, alligators and snakes combined. They are not only irritating pests that can cause itchy bites – they can also be dangerous disease vectors, killing 725,000 people annually. For all of history across the globe, mosquitoes have been a nuisance, a pain and an angel of death.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), almost 40,000 people in the U.S. have been reported with West Nile virus disease since 1999 and of those over 17,000 have been seriously ill and more than 1,600 have died. Mosquitoes transmit other diseases as well, including Dengue Fever, Chikungunya, multiple types of Encephalitis, Malaria, Yellow Fever, and more.

 
Mosquito Biology
 
Mosquitoes are soft bodied insects with one pair of wings. They are in the insect order Diptera along with flies and gnats. There are 2,500 species worldwide and 165 species and sub-species in the U.S.  All mosquitoes undergo complete metamorphosis and have four distinct stages in their life cycle: egg, larva, pupa and adult. The egg, larva and pupa life stages are all aquatic while the adults are terrestrial.
Mosquitoes of different species lay their eggs in a variety of water sources, ranging from small containers to vast expanses of marshland.  The larval stage, often called “wigglers,” is always aquatic and obtains oxygen through a snorkel-like breathing apparatus.  The larva generally feeds on decaying organic matter or is predacious.  The pupal stage does not feed but, unlike most insect pupae, is extremely active. The adult emerges from the pupal case, using air pressure in order to assume a terrestrial existence.
Male mosquitoes have very “bushy” antenna while females’ antenna are much smaller in appearance. Males feed only on nectar and other liquid carbohydrates, so the female mosquitoes are the ones who bite and transmit disease. Females require a blood meal to produce eggs which is why they feed on humans and other animals. Mosquitoes are attracted to perspiration, warmth, body odor  and carbon dioxide.
Pest control applicators who understand the mosquito’s biology can use this knowledge to develop an integrated approach that includes treating the different life stages and reducing potential breeding sites.

 
Tips for Mosquito Control
 
Treat and drain water containers

Because water serves as a habitat for immature mosquitoes, it is important to reduce the amount of standing water around your property as part of an integrated mosquito control program.  If possible, empty all unused containers of water or treat water bodies with biological products that contain Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) or appropriately labelled synthetic growth regulators.

Apply residual products in mosquito resting places

Adult mosquitoes spend a large part of their time resting in areas that contain shade and plant material. Residual products can be applied to plant leaves and other surfaces and should be selected based on their formulation. The most effective formulation types are microencapsulates which are invisible and easily picked up by mosquitoes, extending the residual. Products are also available as wettable powders, soluble concentrates, and emulsifiable concentrates.

Spray outdoor areas

Barrier spraying is a popular and effective option for mosquito control. It is possible to prevent mosquitoes from overtaking your yard or golf course by spraying plants, the exterior of buildings, and other surfaces (as long as the label permits). Barriers can be established with a backpack mist blower or a power sprayer that is mounted on a truck. This type of application is effective for two to three weeks. Thermal fogs are also a popular option and are a favorite amongst golf course personnel. If creating a barrier, adjuvants will improve performance and help with coverage and suspension.
 
Because of flooding and mild winters across the nation, the mosquito population is currently at an all-time high.  Take control of the pesky and dangerous insects and implement a mosquito control regimen now in order to make your backyard, golf course, or outdoor venue as close to being a bite-free sanctuary as possible this summer.

When thinking of the number one enemy to humans, a fierce animal at the top of the food chain probably appears in most people’s minds.