WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — With Zika virus grabbing headlines throughout 2016, many pest management professionals found themselves on the frontline as public health protectors, whether it was providing mosquito control services and/or educating the public.
Mosquito control is a different type of service that involves learning new equipment, products and regulations, as well as having a thorough understanding of mosquito biology and behavior. To help PMPs navigate mosquito control better, this year’s Purdue Pest Management Conference included sessions on mosquito management from leading experts.
First up was Bryan Price, from the Indiana State Department of Health, who took an in-depth look at mosquito biology and mosquito-borne transmission.
The mosquito species that can transmit Zika in the U.S. are Aedes Aegypti and Aedes Albopictus. Of the two, Aedes Aegypti is the species of greater concern because of its “skittish” feeding behavior, Price said. “Aedes Albopictus will pick one host and consistently feed on it, while Aedes Aegypti will get easily scared and move from one host to another, thus increasing the likelihood of [humans] picking up the virus,” he said. Also, Aedes Albopictus prefers to feed on birds and small mammals, while Aedes Aegypti is more likely to feed on humans.
Price also reminded attendees that rainfall patterns are counter-intuitive when it comes to mosquito breeding sites. Droughts create more pockets of stagnant water (prime breeding sites) while significant rainfall can actually flush out stagnant water.
Price was followed by Dr. Grayson Brown, University of Kentucky, who discussed keys for developing and managing a safe and effective mosquito management program. Brown said that backyard mosquito programs can complement municipal mosquito programs.
Brown recommended that PMPs spray a property beginning by treating vegetation/bushes circling a structure’s perimeter and working outwards to vegetation on a property’s perimeter. “The idea is to flush mosquitoes out of the yard and make them fight their way back.”
When it comes to treating dense, non-flowering vegetation, Brown recommends “using a vertical or circular motion to coat the underside of the leaves” for greatest effectiveness. In addition to vegetation, other areas to treat include underneath decks, crawlspaces and other raised structures; up in trees (but not too high); and any location that is dark, cool and moist.
Brown also cautioned against pitfalls of spraying, including spraying a perimeter with little vegetation; treating flowers, flowering plants and vegetables; treating in a haphazard pattern; and failing to use proper PPE. He also said it is important for PMPs to have a thorough understanding of how their municipality regulates mosquito insecticides. And perhaps the greatest consideration is what Brown called “chemical trespasses.” An example of a chemical trespass Brown provided was temporarily suspending the spraying of a property’s perimeter because next door neighbors are active in their back yard.
(Pictured, from left to right, are Gary Bennett, Purdue University, Brian Price, Indiana State Department of Health, and Dr. Grayson Brown, University of Kentucky.)