Mosquito Control Basics

WHY DO WE NEED TO CONTROL MOSQUITOES?

There are really only two reasons to control mosquitoes; to avoid nuisance biting, and to preclude the spread of mosquito-borne disease. Everyone recognizes that mosquitoes can be a real nuisance, but most people do not realize the magnitude of the health threat that they represent. Some of the world’s most dreaded diseases are known to be carried and transmitted by mosquitoes. Many countries around the world are ravaged yearly by malaria, yellow fever, and dengue-hemorrhagic fever. In the United States, encephalitis and dog heartworm are the primary mosquito-borne diseases, but dengue has recently crossed the Mexican border into Texas and is now seen as a serious public health threat.

Mosquito-borne encephalitis in the U. S. is prevalent in several forms and is geographically wide-spread. In Colorado, the Western Equine and St. Louis viral strains were the most common before the invasion of West Nile Virus in 2002. West Nile Virus entered the US along the east cost in 1999 and has had serious implications for the rest of North America. (Please see our West Nile Virus Page for more detailed information). Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain and central nervous system, and is characterized by a high to moderate mortality rate, with some survivors left with permanent physical and mental disabilities.

A growing threat to Colorado pet owners is dog heartworm. A parasite transmitted by the mosquito becomes lodged in the heart and lungs, and if left untreated, severe physical damage and death may occur. Beyond viral and parasitic diseases, other health problems caused by mosquitoes include allergy and infection. In some cases, the chemicals within the mosquitoes saliva are injected into its blood-meal victim, causing serious allergic reactions.

Health concerns are certainly not the only reason to control mosquitoes. If you’ve ever been driven inside by mosquitoes during a backyard picnic, or had to cancel an important outdoor event because of mosquito annoyance, or have chased one pesky invader around the bedroom in the middle of the night, you know the value of effective mosquito control. Mosquitoes can be annoying enough to make an area uninhabitable or unsuitable for recreational or industrial development. Economic losses can also be considerable in resort areas and at local tourist attractions.

PUBLIC EDUCATION
Educating the public about mosquitoes and how to control them is the first place to start when trying to reduce mosquito populations. In many cases, residents, once they know where to look can identify and eliminate potential mosquito breeding habitat around their homes and neighborhood.

THE BENEFITS AND THE RISKS
As with most things in life, benefits do not usually come without some associated risks. Mosquito control is no different. Complete mosquito eradication is impossible, thus man’s effort to control mosquitoes is an on-going battle. In the previous sections, we have discussed the benefits to be derived from controlling mosquitoes. Those being, a greatly reduced threat from mosquito-borne disease, and an overall improvement in the quality of life. On the other hand, the risks associated with mosquito control also concern human health, and the health of our natural environment. In the following sections we will discuss these risks, and how, through modern technology, mosquito control agencies have been able to reduce the threat to human health and the environment.

INTEGRATED MOSQUITO MANAGEMENT

“A process consisting of the balanced use of cultural, biological, and least-toxic chemical procedures that are environmentally compatible and economically feasible to reduce pest and disease-vector populations to a tolerable level”

The goal of Colorado Mosquito Control and all other mosquito control agencies must be;

“To control mosquitoes in a safe, efficient, and economic manner while preventing damage to humans, wildlife and the natural environment”
This task is accomplished is through the implementation of a comprehensive plan of integrated control approaches, know as Integrated Mosquito Management (IMM). The plan is based on sound scientific knowledge and makes use of the latest technology, equipment and materials. When brought together these methods furnish a cost-effective level of mosquito suppression needed to protect man and domestic animals from harassment and the disease. This concept means more than simply combining several technological approaches.

To successfully control mosquitoes, we must know:

1. Which mosquito species are locally important as the primary
source of intolerable annoyance or as vectors of disease.
2. Where the breeding sites of these mosquito species are located.
3. When the mosquitoes are developing in these breeding sites and
when the emergence of adult mosquitoes will take place.
4. What mosquito control measures are needed and can be applied
effectively, economically, and safely with minimal disruption to the
local environment.
5. How much funding will be required to coordinate and execute the
plan devised. Thus, a modern integrated mosquito management
program requires a vast array of knowledge and competence in a
number of technological specialties.

Integrated Mosquito Management (IMM) Operations at CMC
IMM at CMC means that approximately 94% of our time, labor and pesticide expenses are targeted toward finding and controlling mosquito larvae with biological controls in a bio-rational, environmentally sound manner.