Late in the summer of 1999, many people were terrified
by a small, flying insect. Mosquitoes, most specifically the species Culex
pipiens and Culex pipiens pipiens are the two believed responsible for the
transmission of West Nile Like Encephalitis into a number of areas in the
Eastern United States. We now know that other mosquito species may also be a
vector of this disease.
Mosquitoes go through complete metamorphosis. This includes the egg,
larva, pupae and adult insects. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in
"rafts" or groups in standing water or sometimes in dry areas that
these insects are able to anticipate will become wet. While many species lay
eggs in large bodies of standing water, Culex pipiens and Culex pipiens pipiens
take advantage of microenvironments in areas such as blocked gutters, standing
water in debris such as tires, wheelbarrows, planters, swimming pool
covers, ditches, sink holes and other land depressions.
When the eggs hatch in response to a sufficient
amount of water, the larva actually float on the surface of the water. The water
must remain fairly still or the larva will not survive. After a
development period of 4 to 10 days, the larvae will pupate (enter the cocoon stage) while
still in the water. In as little as a day, but sometimes weeks later, the adult
(biting) stage emerges and remains floating on the pupal case until ready to fly
off for its first blood meal.
Encephalitis is a disease vectored by migratory
birds. The two known Encephalitis related mosquitoes don't fly very far, but if
they feed on an infected bird and then bite a person, there is potential for
transmitting the disease.
As part of protecting the public health,
officials in susceptible areas have purchased equipment to carefully
monitor for mosquitoes carrying West Nile Like Encephalitis. In some cases,
caged chickens or other similar birds are placed in mosquito prone areas and their
blood may be drawn and checked for the virus on a regular basis. These birds are not affected by the virus but may have it in their
bloodstream. If dead (migratory) birds are found, they too are tested. Finally,
sophisticated monitoring traps using fans and carbon dioxide (dry ice or
cylinders) to attracts the mosquitoes, help to determine if there is a level of
mosquitoes present that requires control measures. Testing mosquitoes for the presence of diseases is another part of the process.
IPM (Integrated Pest Management)
One of the most important concepts that has
been introduced into the realm of Pest Management in the last few years is the
concept of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Though there is some
disagreement as to how to implement this concept, the common goal is the reduced use
of pesticides. With mosquitoes in particular, pest management
may best be achieved using resource management.
The most effective control measures for mosquitoes pertain to environmental controls.
Because these mosquitoes breed in standing water and areas that are flood prone,
eliminating these harborages as mentioned above, is essential.
Checking each property for ditches, clogged gutters, debris etc. is a key
part of control. Additional controls may include checking screens on
buildings to be sure that biting adults are kept outside.
Another facet of management includes insect
larvicides (to kill the larval mosquitoes in standing water) and adulticides which
complete the IPM picture. Because children and the elderly are most vulnerable
to the effects of West Nile Like Encephalitis, those groups should consider
using insect repellents to protect them from insect bites. Since
mosquitoes are most active at night, people going out at that time need to be
cautious. Wearing long sleeved garments and long pants if practical, can be helpful.
The Bug Clinic offers
general use larvicide for the public. This two inch round donut
shaped product may be used to treat standing water in ponds, on top of swimming pool
covers, in bird baths and in any other stagnant water. This product is
essentially non-toxic according to the manufacturer. The active ingredient
in the product is bacillus thuringiensis israelis or Bti. This product is
specific for mosquitoes and other insects whose larvae breed in standing water.
Adulticides may be applied to lawns and wooded
areas to help
kill mosquitoes. Several insecticide concentrates may be applied for this
purpose (check the label).
We also offering an organic alternative
to insecticides. Dr T's Nature Products produces an entirely organic
Mosquito Repelling Granules. This granular product is
repellent to both mosquitoes and gnats and is poison
free. It contains oil of lemongrass, oil of peppermint and garlic as its active
ingredients. It is not a registered pesticide. According to
the manufacturer, the product is actually beneficial to soil and the
product has pleasant odor. A single application will last for two to three
weeks or more. We have sold the product for years now and have
had mostly positive feedback from people that have purchased the product.
We've also had repeat business which tells us that the product is effective.
Mosquitoes have become a major issue in some areas
of the United States. Understanding the complete metamorphosis
of mosquitoes and the mode of transmission of this disease is a key component in
the management of this insect. Many local governments will be monitoring
for mosquitoes infected with West Nile Like Encephalitis. Because the implicated species, Culex pipiens
and Culex pipiens pipiens don't fly far from their breeding source, control of
breeding sites using mechanical alterations, repairs and larvicide are very
important. Use of insect repellents by children and the elderly as evening
approaches is a prudent action to take as for these two groups of people whom are
most likely to be severely affected by this disease.
Adulticides and repellents for the lawn may
also help control biting insects and thus protect people from potential harm.
Bug Clinic can answer questions for you regarding mosquitoes and their control,
remember that your local health department is the most accurate source for
information about mosquitoes around your
We offer free advice on any pest problem.
You may call us weekdays, toll free at
800-433-1128 between 8 am and 4 pm ET.
Locally, call us at 845-356-2837 or send us a fax at 845-746-9018. We also try to answer any written questions promptly. Feel free to
here and write to us.
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