Warmer and wetter weather has resulted in a sharp increase in insect populations. One insect in particular – the mosquito – raises health concerns because of its ability to transmit diseases.
In Georgia, mosquitoes transmit only a few of the diseases they are capable of transmitting. The newest and most publicized public health concern is the West Nile virus.
The decision to begin mosquito-control programs is influenced by the threat of disease transmission and increasing numbers of adult mosquitoes.
Homeowners can do many things to control mosquitoes around their homes. The most important control measures are best management practices, i.e. eliminate standing water, repair screens, trimming vegetation and residual treatments.
However, control measures that involve only a limited area often yield limited results. The adult mosquito can travel over a mile daily. To be most effective, mosquito-control programs should be organized and operated over large areas. This requires organized efforts at the community level and often at city and county levels.
Many residents of Columbia County are unaware that there is an Integrated Mosquito Management Team. In 2010, the Columbia County Emergency Management Division implemented the Integrated Mosquito Management Team to address mosquito- related complaints in an efficient and timely manner. The IMMT is comprised of multiple offices including: Columbia County Emergency Management Division, Code Enforcement, Water Utility, Roads and Bridges, Health Department, and 311 Customer Service & Information Center (311). This team oversees treatments to county maintained ponds and retention sites as well as individual complaints addressing nuisance areas. For example, residents can alert the county to abandoned pools on uninhabited properties. This service is not for residential pest management. Columbia County’s program involves five key components of integrated pest management. These include: public education/communication, surveillance, source reduction, larviciding and adulticiding.
As a homeowner, the source-reduction component of pest management is one of the major tools in controlling mosquito populations. This process is simple – reduce standing water when possible, thereby reducing the sites that can support mosquito development. This activity is often labor- and resource-intensive, but can significantly reduce mosquito breeding.
As for pesticide applications, there are two major controls, larvicides and adulticides. Larvicide applications are used when source-reduction techniques cannot be conducted to eliminate a particular habitat, such as pond or retention sites. Larvicide applications can be time consuming and require trained applicators, but can be very effective in targeting mosquito populations while they are confined in specific sites.
The most popular Larvicide is the mosquito dunks or mosquito bits, which contain a disease spore (bacillus thuringiensis) that is deadly to mosquito larvae but harmless to humans, fish or pets. These are used in ponds and birdbaths.
Adulticide applications are used when an unreasonable number of adults are present. For the homeowner, the fogger is the best way to apply adulticides. The fogger is an ultra low-volume insecticide application.
The fogger is a good option to eliminate the adult mosquito, but it must come in contact with the mosquito.
Therefore, the limited area of application is a factor to consider. For example, the fogger is used in the backyard for a July Fourth barbecue gathering with good result, but if the stagnate water is not removed from the yard, the mosquitoes will return by the next evening.