Posts Tagged professional mosquito control

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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West Nile Numbers on the Rise, but is it as Bad as Last Year?

We at Mosquito Squad, try to stay abreast of vector-borne diseases and their trends from year to year. At some of you may have seen, human cases of West Nile have been popping up across the country. As of Tuesday this week (August 27th), 45 states and Washington DC have reported the virus in people, birds or mosquitoes. There have been 421 human cases and 13 deaths attributed to the disease. Since the newest numbers were posted, there has been at least one more death and several more cases.

The first reports of West Nile came out nearly two months earlier than it did in 2012, leading most to believe that 2013 was going to be another big year for the virus. We are now in the heat of the normal West Nile season and what are the results? Is it as bad as last year? Simply put, no. It’s not.

On August 22nd of 2012 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) held a telebriefing on the current status of West Nile Virus. In that meeting, they stated:

“As of August 21, a total of 47 states have reported West Nile virus infection in people, birds or mosquitoes…A total of 1,118 cases of West Nile virus disease in people, including 41 deaths, have been reported to CDC…These 1,118 cases and 41 deaths identified thus far in 2012 are the highest numbers of West Nile virus disease cases reported to CDC through the third week in August since West Nile virus was first detected in the United States in 1999.” Source.

2012 was a terrible year for West Nile virus, with the final number of cases topping 5,000. As a result, many local governments budgeted for more mosquito testing and spraying in 2013. Spraying happened earlier and more frequently than in years past. And, let’s not forget, not every mosquito can transmit the West Nile virus. The majority of them don’t carry the disease.

Despite (thankfully) tracking behind 2012’s numbers, we do expect the 2013 numbers to rise. Some areas of the country experienced unseasonably cooler temperatures in the spring, reducing the number of active mosquitoes (as opposed to an unusually warm spring in 2013). With the mosquitoes coming out later in the year, we expect that reported West Nile cases will also come later in the year. West Nile symptoms don’t start to appear until a few weeks after the initial bite.

In any year it is important to protect yourself and your loved ones from vector-borne disease. At Mosquito Squad, we do that through our professional mosquito control services, but it we encourage everyone to be aware of what is going on in your area. If news comes out about West Nile in your town or county, take extra precautions when spending time outdoors, including wearing long sleeved shirts and pants.

If you have any questions on mosquito control, please contact your local Mosquito Squad office. And have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend.

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West Nile Virus, what to expect

Media from up and down the east coast and Midwest are reporting the presence of West Nile in mosquitoes and humans. As a result of last year’s record numbers, many municipalities raised their testing and mosquito spraying budgets to help combat the mosquito-borne disease, but what can we expect in the coming weeks?

Mosquitoes are out in full force right now. Many areas of the country had periods of heavy rainfall followed by hot weather, the perfect combination for mosquitoes. States like Georgia are reporting a higher number of mosquitoes this year as compared to last year.

West Nile Virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito, but the victim may not display symptoms for a few weeks after the bite. Typically August is the worst month for West Nile Virus reports. Many of victims probably got the virus in July or even earlier. As more and more cities and towns, from Louisiana to Wisconsin to Massachusetts, report their first human West Nile case of 2013, the numbers are expected to rise in the coming weeks.

Eighty percent of people with West Nile virus will never display symptoms, known as a subclinical case. When symptoms do show, they are flulike, including fever, headaches, aches, nausea, etc. We are often asked what the difference between West Nile Virus and West Nile Fever. West Nile Fever is when patients start to display symptoms. There is currently no vaccine or medications to specifically treat or protect against West Nile, instead, the symptoms themselves are treated.

2It is believed that mosquitoes get the West Nile Virus from infected birds that they bite and then pass it along to other animals they get blood meals from. While mammals and reptiles are known to carry the disease, not all have reactions like humans.

The best way to protect against West Nile is to protect against mosquito bites and in a year that the population in many areas is on the rise, that can be difficult. There are things you can do on and off your property to decrease the chance for mosquitoes to bite you.

The first thing to do on your property is to get rid of any standing water. Mosquitoes can lay up to 300 eggs in as little water as a bottle cap, so imagine what they can do in a kiddie pool! Keep kids toys and dog dishes flipped over when they aren’t being used and pay attention to water that is pooling in different areas (like piles of leaves or tarps that aren’t pulled tightly). Getting rid of all the water can be extremely difficult, so consider having professional mosquito control. Mosquito Squad treats its clients’ properties every two to three weeks (depending on package and product) and rids the yard of 85 to 90% of mosquitoes.

Even if you have your yard treated, there will be times when you are off your property and you need to be protected then too. Try to stay inside when mosquitoes are known to be their most active (dawn and dusk). Wearing loose pants and long sleeved shirts make it more difficult for mosquitoes to bite you and you can use a topical mosquito repellent if you need to cover exposed skin.

For questions on professional tick and mosquito control, please reach out to your local Mosquito Squad office.

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Is that Beer you are Drinking Attracting Mosquitoes?

Two things that make me think of summer are barbecues and, unfortunately, mosquitoes. One of my favorite drinks to enjoy during a barbecue on a hot day is an ice-cold brew. What can I say? It is refreshing. A new article from the Smithsonian, however, is saying that those beers are making drinkers more attractive to mosquitoes!

A Smithsonian blog posted recently describes many factors that may make you more attractive to mosquitoes.

mosquito-controlAccording to a 2002 study, just one bottle of your favorite beer may make you more attractive to mosquitoes. Researchers first thought the increase in mosquito attraction was due to higher sweat levels and skin temperature after consuming alcohol, but found that wasn’t the case. It looks like mosquitoes just want a sip of that refreshing drink too!

Pregnant women beware, you are more nearly twice as likely to get mosquito bites than you were before you were with child. Why? Mosquitoes are widely known to be attracted to carbon dioxide and pregnant women exhale over 20% more carbon dioxide than non-pregnant women.

When men and women exercise, they too exhale more carbon dioxide, but it is more than just that increase that entices mosquitoes. During a workout, the body temperature rises and lactic acid is omitted through sweat. Mosquitoes can detect the increase in body temperature, making people easy targets.

A 2004 study found that mosquitoes too have their preferences, in the form of Type O blood. The majority of people produce a chemical signal that indicates which blood type they have. In the study, mosquitoes were twice as likely to land on those people with Type O blood and least likely to land on people with Type A blood.

Scientists have been studying the factors that attract mosquitoes for years that I feel as if there is always something new coming out. Despite all of the information that we have, there still isn’t a cure for mosquito bites beyond bug sprays and mosquito control, but it important to protect yourself if you spend time outside. Mosquito bites are not only annoying, but they can also be dangerous. Mosquitoes can transmit numerous diseases.

At Mosquito Squad, we tell our clients that the best way to avoid mosquito bites is to implement an Integrated Pest Management Solution, including professional mosquito control. As opposed to normal bug spray, mosquito control will eliminate 85-90% of mosquitoes on your property. You won’t see very many (if any) flying around you as you eat dinner or enjoy a game outdoors. Mosquito Squad targets the areas we know the pests like to feed and harbor, allowing you to enjoy your yard. Trust us, you’ll enjoy not having to spray your children down with bug spray before they go outside too!

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

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Mosquito-borne Illnesses and the Importance of Mosquito Protection

Mosquito bites . . . the ultimate sign of summer. But while we’re all familiar with the itching, swelling, and discomfort they can cause, few people realize that mosquito bites can be far more dangerous than they appear. Mosquitoes are hosts to a number of serious diseases, some of which can be fatal. Before dismissing the importance of efficient mosquito protection for you and your family, you may want to consider what you are exposing your loved ones to. Read the rest of this entry »

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Massachusetts Evaluates Mosquito Larvicide Bill

2013 has been a wet year for many parts of the country and you know that that means: mosquitoes, swarms of them. In anticipation for another large year for mosquito-borne illnesses, Massachusetts legislation is looking at a new mosquito bill that can help fight the bite.

It's time to start thinking about controlling the mosquitoes in your area

It’s time to start thinking about controlling the mosquitoes in your area

From 2001 to 2009, municipal workers were allowed to administer non-toxic pesticides in storm drains. Storm drains are the perfect place for mosquitoes to lay their eggs because they not only hold water, but it’s also difficult to drain completely. Before 2009, municipal workers were allowed to drop pesticide pellets into the drains to cut down on the amount of mosquitoes hatching and they want that capability back after a year of widespread and fatal cases of West Nile and Eastern Equine Encephalitis in the area.

In 2012 several Massachusetts towns closed community parks at dusk due to high rate of mosquito-borne disease. There has been a  lot of spring rainfall that has led lawmakers to consider the bill again.

As State Representative Jason Lew explains, “it has never been clear to us why [the Department of Agriculture Resources] didn’t renew it” when the legislation expired in 2009. After the law relapsed only licensed pest control workers could apply the pesticide. Allowing municipal employees to administer the larvicide would ensure the catch basins were treated in a timely manner.

Larvicide is a pest control treatment that targets the culex species larvae. The non-toxic pesticide stops the larva from maturing into mosquitoes that can transmit disease.

At Mosquito Squad, we will administer species specific growth regulators in areas that hold standing water that you can’t get rid of. For example, a client may have a pond or drain that holds water that they can’t get rid of. If it goes untreated, even a Mosquito Squad treatment won’t stop the mosquitoes from maturing and biting. To ensure that our professional mosquito control is the most effective it can be, those areas are treated with a growth regulator that stops maturation.

As we’ve seen the numbers of reported mosquito-borne illnesses continue to rise, we are happy to see that local governments are taking mosquito control more seriously. While we help protect our clients and their families at home, it’s important they have protection in community areas like parks and local fields.

If you have questions on mosquito control and what you can do to fight the bite, please reach out to your local Mosquito Squad office.

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Tips to Make Your Fourth of July Party Fabulous

At Mosquito Squad, we will take any excuse to spend time outdoors with friends and family and the Fourth of July is just one of them. If you are hosting a cookout next week to celebrate our country’s independence, here are some great tips to make sure you and your guests have a great time.

Make what you can before your guests arrive. No one wants to go to your party and spend no time with you, so think about what you can prepare before everyone arrives. Keep your hot items simple, like hot dogs and hamburgers so you don’t have to be away from your guests for long. Cut up their accompaniments (like tomatoes and onions) in advance and place in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.

One of our favorite go-to dips you can make the night before and is sure to be a hit: the black bean and corn salsa. Mix together 1 can of black beans (drained and rinsed), 8-10 oz. of cooked corn, 1 chopped tomato, 1/3 c red onion, 1 chopped scallion, the juice from 1 ½ limes, 1 tbsp olive oil and two tbsp cilantro. Let it marinate for at least an hour. If you want, you can add some avocado to it right before you serve. Yummy!

Keeps the kids entertained. If your guest list includes kids, make sure there is something to keep them entertained. Whether it’s a game or craft, having something to keep the kids busy is always a good idea. If it’s a hot day out, consider having some kind of water fun to cool them down, like this cute sprinkler from Amazon.

Show off some red, white and blue. The Fourth of July is the best day to wear or display our country’s colors. Incorporate red, white and blue into the decorations for your party. From flowers to crafts, the possibilities are endless. If you want some small, easy, yet patriotic, centerpieces, here’s an idea: buy some colored sand (or candies) and place it mason jars or a vase for your table (layer red, white and blue sand) and then stick some small American flags in at the top. It will take you 5 minutes tops! If you want something a little more elaborate, check out this Uncle Same inspired centerpiece by Crafts Unleashed.

Dread Skeeter and the rest of the Mosquito Squad want to wish you a Happy Fourth of July!

Dread Skeeter and the rest of the Mosquito Squad want to wish you a Happy Fourth of July!

Keep your guests off the menu. No one wants to go to a barbecue and be eaten alive by mosquitoes. A lot of mosquitoes can ruin your party. Save your party and call your local Mosquito Squad. Our professional mosquito control will keep the bugs away from you, your food and your guests so you can enjoy your time outdoors.

From all of us at Mosquito Squad, have a Happy Fourth of July!

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