It’s easy to get excited by the prospect of bird work. It can be exciting to have the change of pace and routine relative to traditional pest control. But do you really know just how different these two service offerings are?
When starting a business, it’s important to think about the endgame. If your goal is to eventually sell the company, surely different decisions will be made than if you intend to operate it in perpetuity. The bird control market offers unique opportunities with interesting challenges for both paths.
Today, traditional pest control companies are being sold for multiples of annual revenues. An auditor measures the value of the pest control business relative to the security of cash flow associated with recurring revenue pest control accounts, be it residential or commercial. Add that to any real estate, owned vehicles and equipment, materials on hand, perhaps a brand value in a particular market, and so begins the negotiations for a sale.
The best measure of value of a bird control operation, however, would only include the physical assets mentioned previously plus the value of current contracts on hand minus projected expenses to complete the work and a discount for the risk associated with the job. Whereas bird control has the potential to be a lucrative current and future business opportunity, one cannot attach a premium due to its uncertainty.
Unfortunately and realistically, structural/construction-style bird control has little to no future value. There is little assurance of repeat business in the bird control realm. Once the job is done, if all goes according to plan, there is no more problem for that client.
Also, based on the value of these construction-style bird control projects, monies typically come from capital budgets where there is higher scrutiny of expense or requirements for low-bid pricing from multiple suppliers. Therefore, the statistical likelihood of repeat business is diminished.
It can be argued that maintenance contracts or service agreements are an add-on for recurring revenue, but these agreements are tough to sell. Customers don’t want to hear that their new expensive remedy for birds is going to have additional long-term costs of operation. Salespeople are reluctant to even mention that’s the case for fear of losing the upfront sale.
DOES BIRD CONTROL FIT? Stability of pest control accounts versus the uncertainty of landing projects, additional overhead marketing and managerial expenses, and risk factors associated with operating a bird control operation means that this market niche is not for everyone.
Small companies struggle to compete against the resources of established players and national juggernauts whose branding and marketing resources permeate through local markets. On the flip side, even the largest of companies in our industry struggle with applying scale to bird control work. They struggle with employee retention and ensuring quality assurance to clients through scattered branches and non-core territories.
While general pest control, wildlife management or other chemical-based treatments have consistent (perhaps seasonal) cyclical cash flow, the bird control systems installations business is full of ebbs and flows more like a construction company, which calls into question the ability for large, stable businesses to apply long-term forecasting and apply established strategies for growth.
PLACE TO START. Product suppliers to this industry offer one-day classes teaching the basics of getting started in bird control. You can learn which product is right for various applications, perform hands-on product installations or assemblies, and receive tips on how to sell bird control work. At the end of the class you’ll be an “authorized” or “certified” installer of their products. You then add that moniker to your website and business cards and there you have it.
Unfortunately, too many people think that’s really all it takes, both on the service provider and on the client/buyer side. There are no real skills tests or experience checks used to “certify” anyone. Companies may be led to believe bird work is easy based on a one-day class, then wind up in a sea of professionals, often in over their heads trying to price or perform work, and unfortunately for the entire industry wind up devaluing quality work by underestimating either the amount of work involved or, equally important, the value of the job to the potential client.
YOU’RE IN BUSINESS. Performing your first job shouldn’t be that difficult if you are careful. Just recognize your capabilities and start small. Unless you have experienced personnel (be it from another industry or another PCO company) to take on the project, you should not start with anything complicated. There should be no boom lifts on streets of urban locales installing big netting or electric track jobs to begin.
Try to create a success story for your client and your company using one of the simpler remedies such as installing some bird spikes in an easy location like on window sills, a single ledge over a storefront or on a roof. Work with an existing client you have a relationship with so that there is room for forgiveness if a revision to the job is necessary later.
STAY SAFE. Fall protection and all other forms of PPE are essential. If the job should have a lift, get a lift. Ladders pose more of a safety risk and make a job take much longer. Ensure you and your workers have proper training.
Worker injuries and damage to property or equipment are not worth any cost savings. Your insurance will thank you for this mentality. Your customers will thank you for this mentality. Your employees will thank you for this mentality. It’s good for business and for your conscience as a manager or business owner.
THE PRICE IS RIGHT. When thinking about pricing a job, it’s important to move past the formula labor + materials + lifts = price.
Bird control work is riddled with unforeseen and often unacknowledged overhead expenses that are essential in providing the customer with what they are buying. Remember, they aren’t buying tools, materials, a lift rental and hours of labor. They are buying a result and expect a seamless experience in achieving it. You have to charge enough for the jobs you do to cover the unspoken line items that make your company capable of doing the job in the first place.
If the client understands the expertise, training and risk associated with performing bird control work and are unwilling to pay your price, then you can and probably should walk away. Sometimes the best jobs are the ones you don’t do.
LONG TERM. Making it work as a bird control company takes a lot more than just what comes from getting “certified.”
Ideally, a firm should have resources in place to tackle a job, including the finances to cover expenses for labor, materials and equipment while waiting to get paid. In the majority of cases, especially with commercial, institutional or governmental clients, purchase orders and contracts with terms of payment dictated by the client are the norm.
Bird control needs significant attention from a firm’s marketing efforts. Strategically, a company needs to demonstrate their quality and experience. To win over customers and develop a reputation, it takes a better presentation than just adding a single web page under your list of services with a few sentences about various pest bird species. While that may be good for your SEO, once people get to your site and are potentially making a five-figure purchase, they are going to need more information.
In my former life as part of a well-established bird control company and as part of my work with clients of various sizes around the country (both on the buyer side and as an installer), I’ve learned something important. Most bird jobs are only as good as the current project manager and the technicians on-site. The amount of experience planning and executing in this particular niche is likely the best indicator of a job being successful for the client and profitable for the company doing the work. Therefore, employee retention is essential to the long-term health of a bird control entity. It is much more difficult to hire and train someone to do bird work than pest control.
CONCLUSION. Bird control is here to stay as a segment of pest control due to its value to clients and the profitability for business owners. The associated challenges create an opportunity for quality firms to differentiate and excel.
Author’s note: Bird Control Advisory has launched a survey to assess the landscape of the bird control subset of the pest control industry. Please visit www.birdcontroladvisory.com/survey to participate.
Heath Waldorf is the principal consultant of Bird Control Advisory, a New Jersey-based firm that helps architects and engineers plan bird control work. With more than 12 years of experience as a design/build contractor for bird control, he counsels large and small pest management firms on how to succeed in operating a bird control business. Learn more at www.birdcontroladvisory.com.
Focus on Bird Control - Focus on Bird Control
Preventing seagulls from landing on commercial roofs is a tough task but there are a variety of products that can help PMPs who are involved in this line of work.
While trying to impress my young sons years ago at a marina-based restaurant while on vacation in Cape Cod, Mass., I inadvertently contributed to the growing brazen behaviors of seagulls. A group of seagulls was hovering and diving onto our table. Rather than discouraging this behavior, I encouraged it by throwing French fries into the air while watching the seagulls catch them in mid-flight. Our young sons could not contain their excitement as they began throwing their French fries into the air for the hungry birds to catch as well. Although this was quite entertaining for our family (except maybe for my wife), it was not good for the restaurant or for the marina as we contributed to a new learned behavior for the seagulls.
While doing research for this article, I learned that gull populations have surged throughout the United States since the 1950s and their living ranges have expanded beyond beach communities and marinas. Seagulls are now seen inland due to increasing human development and the creation of unlimited food supplies that are available in landfills and other waste-handling facilities. Seagulls have become adaptable to areas where humans live and gull nesting is common on rooftops and other structures.
To prevent seagulls from nesting in commercial structures, Bird Doctor Nationwide uses several types of products to help control these bird pests.
CONTROL PRODUCTS. To help combat seagull nesting, gull grid wire systems, also known as gull wire systems or gull parallel wire systems, have become popular by bird deterrent installation companies for the control of seagulls (a variety of suppliers offer such products, including Bird-B-Gone, Bird Barrier, Seagull Control Systems and more). Control products can be used on commercial rooftops, exteriors of restaurants, pool and outdoor areas at resorts/hotels, marinas, parking lots and garages, courtyards, over fish farms, ponds, and lakes. A gull grid wire system consists of installing telescopic posts or poles around the outermost perimeter of the rooftop. Then tensioned wire is installed horizontally in a checkered square pattern at approximately 3-foot intervals and is attached to the telescopic poles.
We utilize an orange-colored nylon-coated gull wire, which is visible to the gulls and also is visible to any maintenance workers that are on the rooftop. For extra visibility we install short strips (3 to 6 inches) of Mylar flash tape every 4 to 6 feet to the wires. This prevents seagulls from landing on the roof. A seagull’s wingspan is wide when in flight so it’s hard for them to penetrate and land on a roof with a control system in place. Seagulls learn quickly that this roof is not safe for them when they try to land on it. Our firm recommends installing the telescopic poles at 6 to 8 feet above the roof so maintenance workers have full access to the roof. For added protection gull wire also can be installed vertically on all the sides of the perimeter of the system. We have seen numerous times where HVAC technicians refuse to work on their equipment on rooftops until the seagull issue is resolved. Seagulls can be quite aggressive when humans come into their nesting site space. Seagull nesting is typically April through July and it is common for seagulls to nest on or under HVAC equipment.
LIABILITY ISSUES. Another issue is that seagull feces, feathers and nesting material can clog up the ventilation system on the roof, which can spread airborne diseases throughout the building. Seagull droppings are a health hazard that can cause diseases such as ornithosis, E. coli and salmonella. Droppings also can cause structural damage and block gutters. These clogged gutters can result in heavy build-up on the roof, causing the roof to collapse. Also, droppings on the ground can be an issue if a customer or employee slips and falls. Needless to say this may be a liability issue resulting in a lawsuit. Seagulls also have been known to peck on the roof membrane, causing damage to the roof, which causes leaks to the interior of the building. They also will drop seashells and bones from above onto the roof. This can be particularly problematic if there are solar panels on the rooftop. The falling seashells and bones can cause the solar panels to shatter.
All debris should be removed from the rooftops to avoid workers from stepping on it and puncturing the roof membrane. In fact, prior to starting a gull grid wire installation, the rooftop should be disinfected and cleaned of all droppings, feathers, carcasses, nesting material and debris. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) must be worn by workers for their health and safety when providing a dropping clean-up. Also, proper disinfectants and cleaning materials should be used for the dropping cleanup. Power washing is not the solution. (A full article can be written just on the proper cleaning protocols of bird droppings!)
When installing the grid wire system, it is recommended to use stainless steel products or UV-resistant polycarbonate fiber products to prevent rusting and corrosion. Great caution should be taken while installing the gull grid wire system, as you don’t want to penetrate the roof membrane or compromise your client’s roof membrane warranty. Pads can be installed under the telescopic posts to protect the integrity of the roof membrane.
MAINTENANCE PROGRAM. Finally, it is recommended to have an annual bird control inspection/maintenance program. The maintenance program and on-site annual physical inspection will ensure that all hardware is functioning properly. In fact, we recommend an annual maintenance program with any type of bird deterrent installation. Whenever your company’s “good name” is associated to any bird deterrent installation system, it is wise to maintain good client communications, apprising them of any issues or additional work needed. This is a good business practice and also builds your yearly recurring bird work.
While I have focused on the grid wire system in this article, there are numerous other effective methodologies to control seagulls, such as installing bird spikes, bird netting, electrified tracks, fishing line, Daddi Long Legs/bird spiders, bird slope/bird slides, sonic devices, sound deterrents (including gull distress calls), visual frightening devices, flash tape, balloons, propane canons, repellers, trained dogs, pyrotechnics, toxicants (only with proper permitting), and lethal methods are available in certain instances but absolutely require a federal depredation permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
So with this full arsenal of services in our toolbox, all I can say is seagulls beware! You can now enjoy your seaside dinner with your family without flying visitors snatching your fries from the table!
Stuart Aust is a senior adviser for Anticimex and the former president of Bird Doctor Nationwide, Paramus, N.J. Learn more at www.birddoctorinc.com.
Mosquito Suppression Key to Customer Satisfaction
Mosquito Control Supplement - Mosquito Control Supplement
PMPs should strive for a service that is efficacious and economically and environmentally sound, mosquito control expert Grayson Brown says.
“The pest control industry must adopt best practices in mosquito suppression management — techniques that achieve high customer satisfaction by being efficacious, economic and environmentally sound. If this doesn’t happen and quality mosquito control doesn’t occur or improve — then sooner or later you’re going to have legislative-mandated best practices standards. And you don’t want that.”
Those were the cautionary words of Dr. Grayson Brown of the University of Kentucky’s Public Health Entomology Lab as he conducted his segment of PCT’s annual mosquito control virtual conference.
Brown further defined the term “best practices” as “techniques that have generally been accepted as superior to all alternatives because they produce results superior to other techniques and help achieve our goal of mosquito suppression to ensure high customer satisfaction.”
According to Brown, there’s a high placebo effect with current mosquito control services. “So you have to be sure that you are actually suppressing these pests by operating an ethical business that provides efficacious, economic and environmentally sound service.
“Mosquito control is a rapidly growing service because the prevalence of mosquito-borne diseases in cities and suburbs will continue, as will news media reports about them. It’s quite important to initiate and utilize best practices and to explain them and educate your customers about them,” he said.
TWO BIOLOGIES COMPARED. As a general background for the webinar participants, Brown compared the biologies of two common mosquito species — Aedes and Culex — that are prevalent in the United States.
“The Aedes genus is responsible for transmitting viruses that cause dengue fever, Eastern equine encephalitis, LaCrosse encephalitis, chikungunya and Zika; while the Culex mosquito is the primary vector of the West Nile virus, Western equine encephalitis and St. Louis encephalitis,” he explained.
“Aedes mosquitoes principally attack mammals and the Culex species preferentially attacks birds but is responsible for a few human bites,” Brown added.
CLEANER, STAGNANT WATER. “The Aedes adults bite during daytime and early evening hours, and (they) prefer cleaner water, while Culex mosquitoes are active late night and early morning hours, and are attracted to stagnant water.
“The resting sites for Aedes mosquitoes are found close to ground level (less than 10 feet above the ground), while the Culex species resting sites are higher, often more than 10 feet above the ground.”
In explaining how mosquitoes are attracted to people, Brown said that humans in a backyard, for example, give off carbon dioxide (CO2) plumes. “Studies have shown that mosquitoes can detect amazingly small concentrations of CO2 and once they do, they move toward the source of the plumes and bite their target,” he said.
SUPPRESSION SERVICE. So what should PMPs do when faced with an Aedes threat such as Zika? The answer, Brown says, is to contract with a good suppression service that uses best perimeter spraying practices with quality products to develop a good degree of protection.
“We’ve learned that mosquitoes have a short flight range and are susceptible because of their behavior. They’re extremely susceptible to perimeter spraying applications of a residual insecticide. Subacute dosages won’t necessarily kill them but will severely disrupt their ability to target and locate a host.”
SPRAYING PATTERN. The important thing about perimeter applications, he explained, is the pattern of spraying. “Start spraying close to the house and work around it. Target vegetation — but not grass or flowers. Go after thick bushes, or honeysuckle or ivy, and get way down deep. Spray underneath decks, crawlspaces — anyplace that’s cool, dark or humid. The mist blower will blow the mosquitoes away from the area and when they return they’re unable to penetrate the barrier created by the perimeter spray application.” Brown suggested PMPs spray with a quality synthetic pyrethroid and a can expect a 75-80 percent reduction of the mosquito problem.
PYRETHROIDS. Using other effective products when necessary is another best practice, Brown said. He discussed how insect growth regulators (IGRs) — chemicals that disrupt and impede the life cycle in the egg and larvae stage of development — are being used by some for mosquito treatments. The idea with an IGR is that if a mosquito can’t reach adulthood, it can’t reproduce.
There are a number of good pyrethroids on the market, Brown said. “In some of the early work we had done with a premium residual synthetic pyrethroid, we achieved about a 60 percent mosquito reduction over a six-week period. Now we are routinely getting more than 80 percent reduction over eight weeks with some of the formulations that are intended to maximize the duration of effect.”
GRAVID TRAPS. Brown also suggested that granular larvicides could be used in damaged gutters or other areas where standing water hasn’t been eliminated.
“Using gravid traps when needed is also recommended,” he said. “Use them when you get complaints of mosquito bites shortly after your treatment. Often, you’ll find homeowners in those circumstances mistaking fungus gnats or drain flies for mosquitoes. Gravid traps, which are simple and inexpensive devices, will help you identify the problem insect. They’re easy to use and available at hardware or big box stores.”
HOMEOWNER PARTNERSHIP. According to Brown, it’s worthwhile to have a handout for customers that highlights common larval breeding sites. He recommends using an environmental assessment form for this; some are available commercially. “Or you can create your own,” he said. “It should note inspection areas where larvae or adults can usually be found. This will help homeowners become cognizant of breeding areas, which is often information that they don’t know about. The form could also include a simple map showing which areas to treat or not to treat, and which areas to watch for mosquito activity.”
“Obviously, quality application treatment is an important part of best practices,” he said. “But another aspect is an awareness that homeowners have a responsibility in mosquito suppression and communicating those responsibilities to homeowners. That can go far in helping you achieve your goals. Residents must be responsible for ridding their areas of standing water that might be the source of larval breeding and that includes damaged gutters that are holding water. They should do their pruning of nearby foliage such as Japanese honeysuckle before you treat.”
Brown said the environmental assessment form also could be a useful reference in planning for return visits to customers. “Or if you need to send a different technician for that return visit, the form will be very helpful for that employee.”
The filled-out environmental assessment form, he said, could be included with other paperwork given to customers, such as bills or receipts. “It can help further inform and educate your homeowner customer — a very important best practice.”
The author is a PCT contributing writer.
5 Steps for Cleaning Out Container-Breeding Mosquitoes
Mosquito Control Supplement - Mosquito Control Supplement
Even the tiniest bit of water can serve as a breeding ground for certain mosquitoes. Here’s what you need to do to eliminate them from your customers’ properties.
Most pest control professionals start their search for mosquito breeding grounds on the water’s surface, but sometimes these pests are reproducing in less conspicuous containers, making them even more challenging to control.
Container mosquitoes, namely the yellow fever (Aedes aegypti) and Asian tiger mosquitoes, lay their eggs along the water line of containers. This seems simple enough, until you realize that anything that holds water is a suitable container, including the grooves of plastic gutter extenders, the curves of old tires and even a water glass left outside for one day too long.
In a big backyard, all of these containers can be tricky to identify by humans, but mosquitoes don’t have any trouble finding them. Container mosquitoes lay their eggs along the water line inside of these unconventional containers, and the eggs exist in a dry, suspended state for as long as a year. But, as soon as irrigation or rainwater raises the water level just enough to come in contact with the eggs, they hatch.
Once the aquatic stage is complete, the adults don’t fly far from their larval habitats, because they have food sources and a place to lay their own eggs right there.
Fortunately, Dr. Roxanne Connelly, chief entomologist, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fort Collins, Colo., has five simple steps to help PMPs — and their customers — clean out pesky container mosquitoes.
Step 1: Education
When people get a mosquito bite, they know it, but that doesn’t mean they know how to identify where mosquitoes could possibly be breeding, or know how to clean out those containers.
That’s why Connelly said that education is the first step a pest control professional can take in controlling container mosquitoes.
“A lot of people don’t realize that they have things in their yard that are creating nice habitats for mosquitoes,” said Connelly. “Show people where mosquitoes occur around their homes and show people how to get rid of them.”
She suggested volunteering to speak at homeowners’ association meetings, educating neighbors and making visits to community and church groups. Even a trip to the dog park can turn into an educational opportunity, especially when dog owners hear that these specific breeds of mosquitoes transmit heartworm!
Connelly recommends carrying informational flyers in your vehicle that feature pictures of those containers common in yards that may be hiding container-breeding mosquito eggs.
“The more you can talk about it, and the more you can make people aware of this and show them things they can do, the more we’re going to be able to get ahead of some of these container mosquitoes and hopefully prevent some of these mosquito-borne diseases,” Connelly said.
Step 2: Source Reduction
“Source reduction is the key to getting rid of these mosquitoes,” said Connelly. “And when I say remove the source, it should be clear by now what the source is, the source of these mosquitoes are these items that hold water and can support mosquito life.”
She suggests starting by organizing a neighborhood or community clean-up day where residents rid their yards of potential mosquito environments.
“There’s a limit to that,” she said. “Once you get rid of all the cups or bowls or anything that is in the yard that can come out, you’re still going to have some containers that people want to leave in place. If possible, modify those containers.”
For example, for gardens with rain barrel irrigation programs, there should always be a tightly screwed on lid or at least insect screen coverings. Insect screens also help control pests when placed at the end of gutter extensions.
“Because they’re corrugated, they have those little ribs in them and they’re laying flat on the ground, they hold water in those little areas, so even after the rain washes through there you have water that’s left behind and the container mosquitoes love to fly up in these and lay their eggs,” Connelly said. “One of the best things you can do here is lift the pipe and dump out the water on a weekly basis.”
Bird baths should be dumped and scrubbed with steel wool or a stiff brush weekly and any old tires should be disposed of properly. The Asian tiger mosquito was actually unintentionally introduced to the United States through shipments of used tires that also toted the mosquito eggs.
“If you’re doing an inspection of someone’s home, trying to look for the source, don’t forget to look above — look at the roof line,” said Connelly. Clogged gutters make a perfect habitat for container mosquito eggs just waiting for the next big rain.
Even tarps or litter as insubstantial as a bottle cap can support container mosquito eggs, said Connelly. “If it’s holding water, and it’s sitting there long enough, it can produce these container mosquitoes,” she said.
Plants, including the popular bromeliad plants native to south Florida, can house container mosquitoes in the water-holding tanks in their leaf axils.
“Don’t forget to look at the plants because while people may not think of them as a container, the mosquitoes sure do,” Connelly said. “When people plant these around their yard and they start having mosquito problems, we try to encourage people to go ahead and treat them.”
Holes in trees can become a natural container when the conditions are right as well. Gravesites are also popular breeding grounds for container mosquitoes, with plenty of unattended flowers in vases; the mosquitoes can make their way down inside the vases and lay eggs.
Step 3: Treat Water Sources
When you find a particularly nasty infestation, go straight to the source: the water source that is.
There are a few different products that can be used to treat water sources, especially in areas where people may not be able to sacrifice their containers, like rainwater barrels.
The first is Bti, a bacterium that kills black fly and mosquito larvae when ingested, and is used in horse troughs and bird baths. It comes in granular or briquette formulations that last for seven up to 30 days.
But there is a catch — Bti is effective up until the mosquito larva stops feeding, towards the end of the 4th instar. Once the larva reaches the 4th instar, it stops feeding, which means it would not ingest the treated water.
Another option is methoprene, which is an insect growth regulator (IGR). Although IGRs don’t kill mosquitoes immediately, they prevent them from becoming functioning adults. Methoprene, like BTI, is also available in granules or briquettes that last anywhere from 30 to 150 days for a larger briquette.
If you’re in the process of inspecting and treating potential water sources, and you want to check if one does, in fact, house container mosquito larvae before you treat it, Connelly has a quick and easy method.
“One of the ways we go about finding larvae in some of these habitats is to take a turkey baster, a very inexpensive tool, and just suck the water up from an area like this, squirt it into something with a white bottom like a white pan,” she said. “If you see your little wigglers in there then it’s a source that hopefully you can do something about.”
Step 4: Adulticiding
Targeting adult container mosquitoes is a particularly challenging process because of their cryptic habitats, said Connelly.
“They’re resting under vegetation in people’s backyards and it’s really hard to get a space spray in an area where you’re going to impact these mosquitoes,” she said.
Although the results aren’t guaranteed, some pest control professionals and homeowners use a barrier spray on their vegetation.
“The idea is when the mosquito lands on the treated vegetation it will come into contact with this product and it will kill the mosquito or they’ll transfer it to a new larva cycle and they won’t have any offspring,” Connelly said.
Another challenge is that mosquitoes can become resistant to the pyrethroids in these adulticides, like many have in central Florida and the Florida Keys, according to Connelly. “This is something I would use as a last resort; you really want to try and target those earlier stages to prevent them from ever becoming adults,” she said.
Step 5: Surveillance
According to Connelly, surveillance is the step that ties it all together.
“This is really the underlying technique for everything we’ve been talking about,” she said. “If you’re going to apply some treatment you want to make sure the mosquitoes are there so you can look in the containers and look for larvae.”
Connelly suggests putting out a cup of water with a popsicle stick inside at the base of a tree. Check back every couple of days to see if there are eggs stuck along the water line of the stick or cup to get an idea of how many mosquitoes are even out there.
“You can also do this after a treatment to see if the treatment is actually working. Are you reducing the number of eggs in that area?” she said. “Just don’t forget about it because then it can become a source.”
The author is a Cleveland-based freelancer and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Post-Hurricane Mosquito Considerations
Mosquito Control Supplement - Mosquito Control Supplement
UF researcher offers tips on controlling mosquitoes after a hurricane.
Hurricane Irma left a lot of standing water in the yards and homes of Florida residents. So, a University of Florida (UF) researcher suggests steps for making sure your customers’ homes don’t become a haven for mosquitoes following the next hurricane.
Some mosquito species can lay up to 200 eggs at a time, so it’s critical to empty cups, birdbaths, pots or anything else on the property that has standing water, said UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences entomology professor Dr. Phil Kaufman.
“No container is too small to empty,” Kaufman said. In addition to getting rid of standing water, he recommends PMPs and/or residents use mosquito briquettes to kill immature mosquitoes.
When going outside to empty containers or do yard cleanup, Kaufman urged pest professionals and residents to wear insect repellent (preferably with DEET) and light-colored clothing.
Containers are a haven for certain types of mosquitoes to lay eggs, particularly after heavy rains, he said. Mosquitoes that lay eggs in containers include Aedes aegypti (the Yellow Fever mosquito) and Aedes albopictus (the Asian tiger mosquito).
Both species can transmit Zika, dengue and chikungunya viruses, which can cause fever and headaches, among other symptoms, Kaufman said. But an increase in mosquito populations is only one factor in whether mosquito-borne diseases would be transmitted to humans or animals, he said. Other factors include the abundance of other animals or organisms that carry the disease-causing pathogen.
“Every disease is going to be different,” Kaufman said. “So you can’t say that just because we had a hurricane, we’re going to see more disease.”
After such rains, mosquito populations will be high for a few weeks, if not a month, Kaufman said. So, it’s important for customers to contact their local mosquito control officials (and their pest management professional) to tell them if they have concerns over an infestation in their yard or neighborhood, he said.
The bigger problem for mosquito control in general might be flooded areas, Kaufman said. Mosquito populations — such as those of the Gallinipper — will increase more where standing water occurs, he said. Although about six times the size of regular mosquitoes, Gallinippers are largely nuisance mosquitoes, rather than disease-transmitting species, he said.