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  • Writer's pictureChelle Hartzer

What's Bugging You? (AKA: Happy 46 millionth birthday)

Apparently, I was jumping ahead last week because this week just happens to be National Mosquito Control Awareness Week (who comes up with these things?). Yep, you get two mosquito blogs in a row because it’s my blog and I can do what I want to! Mosquitoes have been around for more than 46 million years. Which begs the question: why haven’t we learned how to deal with them?

We have learned and we continue to learn more. A quick literature search revealed 2,400 new papers published since January of 2021. On Aedes aegypti (the yellow fever mosquito) alone! With so much research happening on a single mosquito species, do you know how this helps your mosquito management program? Here are some of the recent research reports and how they can help.

Mosquitoes are becoming resistant. I often hear people in the pest control industry lament the loss of DDT like it is some magical substance that if brought back in the US, it would cure all our problems. Well, mosquitoes in many parts of the world are becoming resistant to DDT. They are also becoming resistant to permethrin, malathion, and a few other of the common pesticide active ingredients we use. This horror movie can have a happy ending: by rotating the active ingredients we use (as well as employing non-chemical control methods), we can keep resistance at a minimum and keep all our pesticides working as they should.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. Research showed that the "potential threat of vector-borne diseases was increased in areas with resistant mosquitoes.” They had longer survival times and higher dissemination rates for dengue.

We know that temperature has an effect on mosquito development and overall population numbers. While we can’t control the weather, we can use it to our advantage. Research showed cold, even mild cold fronts decreased in survivorship and that adults and pupae were more susceptible to temperature changes. This story shows doing larvicidal treatments directly after cold fronts pass through can have a significant reduction in populations that take longer to rebound and are targeted. (instead of broader sprays or fogs).

If mosquito larvae are present in a water source, adult females are more likely to lay their eggs there. Basically, it’s already a good source because the larvae are there so the females are able to sniff out the volatiles the larvae put off and are more likely to lay eggs in those pools of water. You can be the hero of this fairy tale by removing the larval habitat and encouraging customers to do the same. Tip out any standing water sources and treat (if possible) those that can’t be emptied. Down the road, these volatiles they tested could be used as attractants in mosquito traps.

Wouldn’t it be nice to take a pill and not have to deal with mosquitoes? Don’t hold your breath. Researchers looked at ivermectin in the bloodstream and its impact on feeding mosquitoes. In order to have significant mortality, it required doses that were too high for safe human consumption. This sci-fi movie is not coming true just yet. However, there is good news on very targeted treatments on mosquitoes including using Wolbachia and CRISPR techniques. More to come on that in the near future!

PPE still works. Insecticide treated bed nets are still showing long term effectiveness if they are used correctly. Personal “bug sprays” with CDC approved ingredients are still effective at repelling mosquitoes from individuals. And there is research into new products. While there have been no reports of resistance to the commonly used repellents, ensuring resistance doesn’t happen is important. Having additional ingredients to rotate for personal use is just as important as having different ingredients for pesticide uses. Be a superhero and wear your “costume”.

When was the last time your mosquito management program changed in any way? Is it doing the same things that were done five years ago? Ten years ago? New research means new and often better ways of managing these little Draculas. Contact us to find out more on how we can help improve your mosquito services.

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