Audio Blog: Common Mosquitoes and Control Methods
Mosquito control is a valuable service to consider adding to your lawn care offerings. This blog post will discuss the main disease-carrying mosquitoes in the United States and some effective control methods.
The first mosquito we’ll look at is the Anopheles genus, which carries malaria. Anopheles mosquitoes are usually nocturnal or active at dusk, and they lay their eggs in clean, standing water. Eggs take two weeks to develop. Despite malaria not being a problem in the US, Anopheles mosquitoes are still present here.
The next genus of mosquito is the Aedes, which includes Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti. Aedes aegypti is the mosquito that causes yellow fever. Fortunately, that’s another disease that we don’t have to worry about here.
Aedes albopictus is a common mosquito that can carry West Nile virus, which is a disease we do have in the US. Aedes albopictus has black legs with small white markings. These mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water, and their eggs can resist desiccation for up to a year. If one of these mosquitoes lays its eggs during a dry summer, the eggs can remain dormant and hatch once it rains. This species takes two to seven days to develop. Once adults, they feed all day long. If you get a mosquito bite in the afternoon, it’s most likely from an Aedes albopictus.
There are 65 different species of mosquito that can spread West Nile. Another is the Culex pipiens, which is a fairly small mosquito also known as the common house mosquito. Culex pipiens overwinters as an adult in barns and culverts, coming out as soon as there’s a little bit of warmth. This species lays eggs in polluted, stagnant water.
Birds are the more common hosts of the West Nile virus, which then transfers to mosquitoes when they feed on them. The next time they bite, those mosquitoes inject some infected bird blood with an anticoagulant to prevent blood from clotting in their mouthparts. This process enables the rampant spread of diseases via mosquitoes.
Heartworm is another disease that mosquitoes spread. Like West Nile and other viruses that affect humans, heartworm spreads through mosquito bites on dogs and cats. Because of its prevalence, treating your pets for heartworm in the summer is recommended.
When it comes to adding mosquito control services, there are several practices that lawn care companies can implement. The first is habitat remediation, which works to prevent mosquito breeding by removing standing water on the property. Tires, bird baths, and kiddie pools are common culprits that hold water and make it easy for mosquitoes to reproduce rapidly.
For standing water that’s not as simple to eliminate, larvicides are an option you can apply directly to the water. Larvicide will kill larvae that are already in the water. A common biological larvicide is Bacillus thuringiensis, which is a bacteria that produces deadly toxins when consumed by mosquitoes. Make sure to use the israelensis subspecies of the bacteria for mosquito control.
Local Departments of Natural Resources often provide mosquito “dipping” to test larvae and determine if they carry disease. If you service a property with a lot of wet woodlands, you can involve your local DNR to help the customer understand the value of a mosquito control service.
Generally, lawn care companies will use mist blowers to apply synthetic pyrethroids for mosquito control. Bifenthrin is the most popular active ingredient to use for chemical control. If you’re planning a mist blower application, keep in mind that mosquitoes are weak fliers. They prefer dense foliage, so focus on low areas rather than spraying high into trees.
Many municipalities engage in community-wide mosquito control, which typically involves foggers. This method heats the insecticide and fogs it out rather than simply misting it. If your company makes any HOA applications, verify if your state requires different licensing for these treatments. In Indiana, for example, you need a different license to treat HOAs than you need to treat single residences.
Mosquito control has many benefits for homeowners and property managers. Ultimately, your business will also benefit from adding this service and creating more opportunities to serve your customers.