Archive for category Mosquitoes In the News

Is your Natural Scent Repelling Mosquitoes

mosquito_bitePersonally, I’m one of the unlucky people that mosquitoes LOVE. If I stop on a walk with my dog, I’m sure to get a few mosquito bites that turn into large welts. One of my best friends, however, barely ever gets mosquito bites. While I am jealous, microbial ecologist Rob Knight explains that it isn’t all that surprising.

Sorry to all you germ-aphobes out there, but even if you shower three times a day, you still have billions of microbes that live on your skin. The diversity of microbes can vary vastly from human to human. These microbes produce chemicals and scents that may attract mosquitoes.

Forty-eight males volunteered to illustrate how different skin microbes can be more or less attractive to mosquitoes. They were asked not to shower for two days and to refrain from certain types of food and beverages like alcohol, garlic, etc. To increase the number of microbes to be tested, the men had to wear socks for 24 hours.

The researchers then rubbed glass beads on the bottom of the men’s feet to grab samples of the skin for testing. Mosquitoes were then introduced to the beads as mosquito bait. Some beads were placed in the highly attractive category while others were poorly attractive. The highly attractive beads were more likely to have a high concentration of certain microbes, while the poorly attractive group have a diverse population of microbes.

Based on these tests, “researchers say that it’s possible that some people’s smell acts as a natural deterrent” (Source) to mosquitoes.

Unfortunately, we don’t have control over the microorganisms on our skin and the scent they produce. To ensure mosquitoes stay away, you have to protect yourself. On your property, mosquito protection doesn’t mean you have to burn candles or spray your skin. Professional mosquito control treats the foliage on your property to eliminate mosquitoes on contact and provide continuous control for up to 21 days, but how does it work? Mosquitoes feed primarily on plants. Mosquito Squad’s barrier spray leaves a residue on the plants that the pest will ingest when it feeds, eliminating them.

If you have questions on mosquito control in your yard, please contact your local Mosquito Squad office.

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The Basics of the Mosquito

Over the years, we at Mosquito Squad have shared a lot of information on mosquitoes. The different types, how they choose their prey, the diseases they carry, etc. We were excited to see a new video that was released today that provides a great snapshot on our most dreaded pest. Take a look at this video from TED-Ed, Lessons Worth Sharing:

We at Mosquito Squad are very familiar with both the annoyance and dangers of mosquitoes. For those of you that may not be aware, Mosquito Squad was born from a need. Our sister company, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, had lighting designers that would be eaten alive when designing and installing outdoor lighting systems. It was such a nuisance that our founders, Boyd Huneycutt and Scott Zide, who were involved with Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, decided to provide a service to help. From there, Mosquito Squad was born.

Mosquito Squad prides itself on giving our clients their yards back. Our effective mosquito control spray reduces your mosquito population by up to 90% for up to 21 days!

If you are looking for a gift for that hard to buy for person on your list this holiday, a gift certificate for Mosquito Squad services is something completely unexpected. Allow your friends or family members to know what summer is like without mosquito bites! For more information, reach out to your local Mosquito Squad office.

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Dengue Fever, Genetically Modified Mosquitoes and the Florida Keys

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease that we don’t talk about too often, but it has made the news recently. Dengue is also known as the breakbone fever due to its severe muscle and joint pain and is considered a tropical disease that has, in the United States, been primarily found in Florida. In the last few weeks however, Texas and New York have reported cases of Dengue.

The Aedes aegypti is known to transmit dengue fever in tropical locations

The Aedes aegypti is known to transmit dengue fever in tropical locations

Dengue is transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito. The Florida keys have a large Aedes aegypti population and suffered a Dengue outbreak in 2010. Now, local employees are considering a new method of decreasing the mosquito population with mixed feedback.

Michael Doyle is director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD). Its goal is to control the mosquito population in the keys, an area that has the pests all year round due to its warm weather. Having tried pesticides and more natural solutions such as dragonflies (a mosquito predator) with little success, Doyle would like to introduce genetically modified mosquitoes to the area.

British bioengineering company Oxitec is the leader in genetically modified mosquitoes. They inject male Aedes aegypti with what is referred to as a suicide gene.  The gene prohibits the males’ offspring from maturing and kills them, thus cutting down on the mosquito population.

No MosquitoesIn 2009, Oxitec was criticized for releasing 3.3 million modified mosquitoes in the Cayman Islands without public consultation, however, the test displayed promising results. Since then, the company has expanded to Malaysia and Brazil.

When news that the city wanted to release modified mosquitoes in the Keys was announced, residents were anything but thrilled. They question the timing of such a radical step. The area hasn’t seen a dengue outbreak since 2010 and it seems too early to evaluate the long-term effects of genetically modified mosquitoes. As local resident, Mila del Mier stated, “why not keep the status quo and have more time for more studies?”

Doyle explains mosquito spraying isn’t as effective as they’d hope because municipal spraying cannot reach all the areas where mosquitoes hide.

We at Mosquito Squad are interested to see what comes from further tests of genetically modified mosquitoes. In the meantime, we will continue to protect our clients with our effective mosquito control spray. Our trained technicians focus on the areas where municipal spraying can’t reach, like heavy foliage on your yard.

If you have questions regarding professional mosquito control, please reach out to your local Mosquito Squad office.

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Mosquitoes top the list of most worrisome pest

At Mosquito Squad, we pride ourselves on ridding our clients’ properties of mosquitoes and ticks so they can enjoy the outdoors without space. Mosquitoes, as we know, are not only annoying, but dangerous and a new survey done by The National Pest Management Association is showing just how worrisome they are.

In the study conducted by Harris Interactive, American’s were asked what pests worry them the most in the summer, including mosquitoes, ticks, stinging instead (like hornets and bees), spiders and bed bugs. 62% said they were concerned with mosquitoes, followed by 38% worried about stinging insects and 30% concerned about ticks.

Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association, doesn’t seem to be too surprised by the findings: “It’s no wonder mosquitoes are of most concern for the public, considering last year was one of the deadliest West Nile virus seasons on record, with 286 fatal cases reported to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.” Source.

54% of respondents said that they are concerned about contracting disease from summer pests, follow by 43% worried about pain associated with a sting and 35% concerned about a pest infestation in their home.

Henriksen explains that the risks associated with summer pests are still a concern; “mosquitoes and stinging insects are very active up until the late fall, around October. It’s important for people to take proper precautions when spending time outdoors, especially amid concerns over [West Nile virus] and reports of increased cases of Lyme disease.”

Depending on the area of the country, our Mosquito Squad locations are providing tick and mosquito control applications through the end of October, beginning of November. As long as our clients are being bothered by mosquitoes, we will be there to help get rid of them.

The key to protecting yourself against vector-borne diseases is to protect yourself from the pests that transmit them. Getting rid of standing water on your property, for example, is a great way to cut down on the number of mosquitoes in your yard. Mosquitoes, in general, don’t venture far from where they first hatched.

The survey also showed that women were more concerned about pests during the summer months. 87% of women noted that they were concerned about pests, while 82% of them stated their concerns.

Americans with children are more concerned about summer pests than those without at 90% and 82% respectively.

If you are like the majority of people out there that are concerned with mosquitoes and ticks, please contact your local Mosquito Squad office. We will work with your to find a tick and mosquito control option that will work for you.

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Mosquitoes Emerge in Warmer Weather, first case of West Nile in 2013

This past week has brought with it some warm weather on the east coast. I love spring and summer, the heat, the sunshine, being outdoors, it’s just an enjoyable time of year, except for one thing: mosquitoes.

When temperatures start to rise in the spring, mosquitoes begin to emerge and threaten to ruin our outdoor fun. For many parts of the United States, they’ve been active for several weeks now. Some of our Mosquito Squad locations are already out and about protecting yards from mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes need two things to reproduce: blood and standing water. Male mosquitoes do not bite, but instead only feed on plant proteins. Females, on the other hand, need the protein from blood to lay their eggs. They smell carbon dioxide and know they can find blood at the source. After a blood meal, the mosquito then needs standing water to lay its eggs, and it doesn’t need much. Up to 300 mosquito eggs can be laid in as much as a bottle cap full of water!

While the itch from bug bites is enough motivation to rid your yard of mosquitoes, they also carry and transmit dangerous diseases. Last year there was an increase in the numbers of confirmed West Nile cases in the US. The Centers of Disease Control reports a total of over 5,300 cases over 48 states. Symptoms can include fever, headaches, fatigue and joint pain. As a result, many states and municipalities are increasing their mosquito control efforts this year to help fight the spread of West Nile.

Despite enhanced efforts to fight the spread of West Nile and other vector-borne disease, Mississippi is reporting the first human case this year, a full two months before the first human case in 2012. Even with municipalities doing more to cut down the mosquito populations in public areas, homeowners should be protecting their properties from mosquitoes as well.

Dread Skeeter of Mosquito Squad

Dread Skeeter of Mosquito Squad

At Mosquito Squad, we offer our clients three residential mosquito control options:

  1. Our 21-day mosquito barrier spray program brings a trained applicator to your home once every three weeks. The spray is applied to the vegetation on your property where mosquitoes are known to feed and harbor.
  2. The barrier spray is also available in an all-natural version. As opposed to the standard barrier spray, the all-natural option should be applied to the property every two weeks.
  3. If you would like something more permanent, an installed mosquito control misting system may be a good option. The misting system emits small bursts of mosquito spray at times of the day when mosquitoes are most active.

As spring and summer begins, it’s important to make sure you can get the most out of your outdoor spaces. If you have a mosquito problem, reach out to your local Mosquito Squad office. Dread Skeeter and his squad are sure to help!

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Asian Tiger Mosquito is Nothing Compared to the Mega – Mosquito

The Asian tiger mosquito population has been growing of the last few years. The black and white stripes on their body and legs are easily recognizable. As the Asian tiger mosquito continues to bite people as they enjoy they outdoor living spaces a new mosquito is coming to Florida: the mega-mosquito (yes, I’m serious)!

Asian Tiger Mosquito

Imagine this Asian tiger mosquito, except 20 times larger and you have the mega-mosquito!

As the name suggests, the mega-mosquito is a much larger mosquito specie, up to 20 times larger than the Asian tiger mosquito!  They have the same black and white stripes as the Asian tiger mosquito, but are known to be much more aggressive and the bites hurt! As Entomologist Paul Kaufman explains, the mega-mosquito isn’t new to the United States, “When you read historical accounts of the first European settlers in the Southeast and they talked about gigantic mosquitoes, this was the one they were talking about.” Source.

Researchers believe that the 2012 hurricanes brought hundreds of mega-mosquitoes to Florida. The storms, along with bringing the mosquitoes, created the perfect breeding ground with tons of water. While the ground has dried up in some areas, as soon as it becomes saturated again the eggs will start maturing again. “’Because of the events last year, and the eggs laid, we can expect large numbers of these mosquitoes again,’ Entomologist Phil Kaufman said.” Source.

While Kaufman suggests people cover their bodies with long shirts and pants, it may not be enough to combat the mega-mosquito’s aggression. It can bite through shirts and its bite will hurt much more than the normal mosquito species due to its size.

The Asian tiger mosquito, as well as the most common Aedes aegypti, breed in any standing water and are found in both suburban and urban areas. The mega-mosquito, in comparison, has only been observed near floodwater. Both species are most active at dawn and dusk and only the females will seek a blood meal to aid in reproduction, but the mega-mosquito are not known to transmit vector-borne diseases.

What I find most alarming about the mega-mosquito, or Gallinipper as they are called, is that common mosquito repellants may not be effective in fighting them. The bodies are so much larger than the species that normal repellants protect against that there isn’t enough of the active ingredients in it to kill the mega-mosquito. Professional mosquito control, as opposed to mosquito spray bought at the grocery store, should be effective in controlling the mega-mosquito population. The amount of active ingredients is higher and works differently than what is applied to the body. We at Mosquito Squad urge homeowners to seek an outdoor pest control company to protect their yard if they see mega-mosquitoes in the area.

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Preparations to Battle West Nile Begin

Last summer the United States saw a spike in the number of West Nile Virus cases across the country. By the end of the year, 48 states reported confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne disease, resulting in 243 deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “eighty percent of the cases have been from 13 states (Texas, California, Louisiana, Illinois, Mississippi, South Dakota, Michigan, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Colorado, Arizona, Ohio and New York) and a third of all cases have been reported from Texas.” Spring is now right around the corner and officials have started preparing for the battle against the mosquito and the diseases they transmit.

Public health employees in Tarrant County, Texas, where 11 people died of West Nile last year, have already begun trapping and testing mosquitoes. As Dr. Anita Kurtian, chief epidemiologist explains, the plan this year “is significantly more aggressive in terms of surveillance and response.” Source. They’ve increased the number of traps so safety communications to the public can be more proactive.

Dallas County, Texas is also increasing their mosquito trapping as a result of 19 deaths last year.

On the east coast, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in Virginia approved the “Disease Carrying Insect Program” to help measure and prevent not only the spread of West Nile Virus but also Lyme disease that has greatly affected the area in past years.

We at Mosquito Squad are thrilled to see that plans are already in place to be more proactive with respect to the spread of mosquito-borne disease!

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