Reducing the mosquito threat requires reducing the population using the latest tools and technology available. But before you fire up the backpack sprayer or unload the mister from the truck, a thorough inspection of the property must be done.
A well-trained technician knows overgrown shrubs and tall grass are common “opportunity” areas for mosquitoes and need to be properly treated to knock down population levels. But there are other non-foliage sources within a yard that mosquitoes are attracted to.
Alex Blahnik, field training manager for Wil-Kil Pest Control, a Copesan Pest Solutions Partner, in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, says technicians need to get out of the mindset of just treating the exterior of a structure for mosquitoes and get out into the property to identify at risk areas.
“Mosquito breeding areas can come in small packages and technicians shouldn’t underestimate the ability of mosquitoes to breed and nest in seemingly innocent objects,” says Blahnik.
Aside from landscape elements that receive little sunlight and retain moisture, technicians must consider the following non-foliage items as potential mosquito breeding locations:
• Pools and pool covers
• Plant containers
• Children’s toys, playground sets, pools and sand boxes
• Bird baths
• Pet water bowls
• Buckets, wheel barrows and yard equipment
• Gutters and downspouts
• Garbage and recycling cans
• Tires and wheel ruts
• Rain barrels
• Patio furniture
• Underneath decks
Tommy Powell, eastern technical field representative for MGK based in Durham, North Carolina says it only takes a bottle cap of standing water to create a mosquito breeding site and that technicians need to think small when it comes to rooting out these locations.
“You have to find out where customers spend their time outdoors – patios, outdoor kitchens, fire pits, children’s play areas – and closely inspect those areas for conditions that are conducive to mosquitoes,” says MGK’s Powell. “Technicians need to look for areas of opportunity first and spend their time there.”
The design and layout of the yard can also play a factor in creating mosquito-favorable breeding locations.
Blahnik says technicians must look at the soil grade around the foundation and where downspouts or sump pumps discharge. If the soil grade doesn’t move water away from the structure moisture can collect and create a breeding opportunity.
Improperly calibrated lawn sprinkler systems that allow moisture to gather are another potential mosquito breeding location as is the area underneath decks where moisture can build up under yard and other debris.
“Technicians need to get down and dirty when inspecting the property for mosquitoes just as they would for other pests,” says Blahnik. “While mosquitoes are most visible to homeowners when they sit on their patio, front porch or deck, their breeding sites can be in unusual, out-of-the way spots.”
In commercial facilities, retention basins or decorative ponds can be cause for concern if the water is not regularly agitated.
Blahnik also recommends technicians and the facility maintenance staff walk-around the property to identify conditions that would allow mosquitoes to breed. In addition to the aforementioned ponds and retention basins, other potential “hot spot” areas in a commercial facility include:
• Shipping containers and pallets
• Gravel parking lots (truck tires can leave ruts)
• Beds of trucks and other vehicles
• Outdoor vehicle washing stations
• Sewers and drainage ditches
• Outdoor kitchen sink drains
• Tires and construction materials
• Flat roofs where water can collect
“There are many variables when it comes to treating for mosquitoes that are out of the control of technicians, namely conducive conditions on adjacent properties where they can’t treat,” says Blahnik. “This will impact your efforts to reduce the mosquito population and this must be explained to customers before a treatment is done.”
A World Without Mosquito Control?
What if mosquito control measures weren’t available to consumers? What impact would that have on our society? Aside from the serious threat to public health and welfare, consider the economic impact it could have:
• Tourist destinations are in some of the nation’s worst mosquito habitat along coastlines and in state/national parks.
• Outdoor recreation (hiking, camping, etc.) usually occurs in prime mosquito habitat. The diaries of Lewis and Clarke have numerous references to the excruciating problems mosquitoes caused in pristine wilderness habitat.
• Reduced attendance at outdoor events such ball games, car races, picnics, fireworks displays, reunions, concerts, parades, graduation or wedding ceremonies, drive-in movies, etc. as unchecked mosquito numbers make these activities increasingly uncomfortable.
• Higher beef and dairy prices. Studies show that the annoyance of large mosquito populations significantly lower beef production and dairy output.
• Development of prime real estate in many areas will be inhibited – without mosquito control many people would not be living where they presently do.
• Equity and land values would plummet in many areas if modern-day mosquito control were to disappear.
Source: American Mosquito Control Association