Controlling mosquitoes to reduce the spread of Zika virus would be easy if there was a perfect pesticide. However, experience has shown that pesticides alone rarely produce complete or lasting control of pests, whether battling cockroaches in kitchens, or mosquitoes in marshes. This observation is the basis of a control strategy called “Integrated Mosquito Management” or IMM.
The Best Way to Control Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes are controlled most efficiently with an approach that blends the use of both chemical and non-chemical control measures. This is the essence of IMM, the preferred approach for city and county-wide mosquito control programs. Integrated mosquito management works best when done over a large area, like a neighborhood, community or county.
“The Four D’s” – How to Manage Mosquitoes & Protect Against Bites
- Dusk/Dawn – Avoid being outside when mosquitoes are searching for a blood meal, which is usually in the early morning hours and just before the sun goes down. While some species are daytime biters, many prefer to feed at night but all can be actively feeding at dusk and dawn. Unfortunately, the mosquitoes that carry Zika, Dengue, Chikinguna and Yellow Fever also bite during the daytime.
- Drain – Empty standing water from “containers” around your home and work areas, such as buckets, wheelbarrows, kiddie pools, toys, dog bowls, water troughs, tires, bottles, etc. Make improvements that allow standing water to run off following rains.
- Dress – If out during mosquito feeding hours, wear long sleeves and pants in plain colors. Avoid attracting them by wearing excessive amounts of perfume or aftershave.
- Defend – Any time you go outside for an extended period of time, wear a mosquito repellent. DEET provides up to 6 hours of high protection from mosquitoes and has an excellent safety record. People who dislike the smell or oily feel of DEET can choose from two other excellent mosquito repellents. Lemon oil of eucalyptus (an aromatic, plant-derived natural mosquito repellent) and picaridin (odorless) provide excellent, though shorter protection than DEET. Keep a bottle or can of insect repellent just outside the doorway to remind you to spray exposed skin.
Additional measures that can be used around the house or workplace include:
- Using mosquito dunks containing insect growth regulators or Bti
- Mowing tall weeds and grass
- Spraying labeled contact insecticides in shady mosquito resting areas
- Installing mosquito barriers such as screened windows and doors –or- making sure they are in good repair
Learn more about the different types of mosquitoes by visiting the interactive Mosquito Safari Website or by downloading the fact sheets called, “What Texans Need to Know About Zika Virus” and “Mosquitoes and the Diseases they Transmit.” There are many good links to additional information through the fact sheet, so if you have any interest in the subject, these are a must read.
Mosquito Control for Municipalities, Schools & Pest Control Professionals
Extension Entomologists specialize in Integrated Pest Management trainings for city, school and pest control professionals. The net effect of these trainings helps to provide protection for millions of Texans from mosquitoes and other pests. Learn more about upcoming Ag and Environmental Safety Department offerings, download the Texas Mosquito Management Manual or sign up for the Texas Mosquito Management online course for Texas Pesticide CEU.
For answers to specific questions about Preventing the Spread of Zika Virus using Integrated Mosquito Management, visit http://PreventingZika.org or contact Dr. Sonja Swiger, (254) 968-4144, firstname.lastname@example.org.