Mosquito control is the task of managing the population of mosquitoes to reduce their damage to human health, economies, and enjoyment of mosquito-ridden areas. more...
Mosquito control is a vital public-health practice throughout the world and especially in the tropics because mosquitoes spread many diseases, such as malaria.
Mosquito-control operations are targeted against three different mosquito problems:
- Nuisance mosquitoes bother people around homes or in parks and recreational areas;
- Economically important mosquitoes reduce real estate values, adversely affect tourism and related business interests, or negatively impact livestock or poultry production;
- Public health is the focus when mosquitoes are vectors, or transmitters, of infectious disease agents.
Disease organisms transmitted by mosquitoes include West Nile virus, Saint Louis encephalitis virus, Eastern equine encephalomyelitis virus, Everglades virus, Highlands J virus, La Crosse Encephalitis virus in the United States; dengue fever, yellow fever, Ilheus virus, and malaria in the American tropics; Rift Valley fever, Wuchereria bancrofti, Japanese Encephalitis, dengue fever, yellow fever, chikungunya and malaria in Africa and Asia; and Murray Valley encephalitis in Australia.
In the United States, states with sizeable mosquito-control programs include California, Florida, New Jersey, Louisiana, Minnesota, Michigan, North Dakota, and Texas, among others.
Depending on the situation, source reduction, biocontrol, larviciding (control of larvae), or adulticiding (control of adults) may be used to manage mosquito populations. These techniques are accomplished using habitat modification, pesticides, biological-control agents, and trapping.
Monitoring mosquito populations
Adult mosquito populations may be monitored via landing rate counts, or mechanical traps. For landing rate counts, an inspector visits a set number of sites every day, counting the number of adult female mosquitoes that land on a part of the body, such as an arm or both legs, within a given time interval. Mechanical traps use a fan to blow adult mosquitoes into a collection bag that is taken back to the laboratory for analysis of catch. The mechanical traps use either light, carbon dioxide, or a combination of both, to lure adult female mosquitoes into the trap.
Monitoring larval mosquito populations involves collection of larvae with a half-pint dipper or a turkey baster. The habitat, approximate total number of larvae and pupae, and species identity are noted for each larval collection.
Since many mosquitoes breed in standing water, source reduction can be as simple as emptying water from containers around the home. This is something that homeowners can accomplish without much difficulty. For example, homeowners can eliminate mosquito breeding grounds by removing unused plastic pools, old tires, or buckets; by clearing clogged gutters and repairing leaks around faucets; by regularly changing water in bird baths; and by filling or draining puddles, swampy areas, and tree stumps. Eliminating such mosquito breeding areas can be an extremely effective and permanent way to reduce mosquito populations without resorting to insecticides. However, this may not be possible in parts of the developing world where water cannot be readily replaced due to irregular water supply.
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