Behind the Scenes Look: Utilizing Technology for Successful Surveillance & Disease Testing

VDCI lab testing vial mosquito control education

Behind the Scenes Look: Utilizing Technology for Successful Surveillance & Disease Testing

Responsible mosquito management involves targeting mosquitoes at all stages of their lifecycle. A holistic, integrated approach is the most effective strategy to halt population growth and prevent the spread of deadly diseases while reducing environmental footprint.

surveillance and disease testing

Surveillance is the cornerstone of an integrated mosquito management (IMM) program. This begins with assessing breeding sites and eliminating mosquitoes at the larval stage. By analyzing population dynamics and species distribution, adult mosquitoes can be safely and effectively controlled. Proactive surveillance and data collection also allow scientists to optimize the use of insecticides and limit spraying to specific areas at precise times. These techniques reduce the chance of insecticide resistance, which can create additional challenges and expenses for stakeholders.

mosquito lab testing collecting dataHighly targeted, carefully formulated insecticides are used by experts to safely control mosquitoes and mitigate the risk of vector-borne disease transmission. Though insecticides are an impactful tool in mosquito management, it’s possible for mosquitoes to become resistant to them. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) if mortality drops to a rate of less than 90%, the mosquito population is considered insecticide resistant.

Insecticide resistance typically occurs during prolonged exposure to insecticides used during the management process. Continued use in moderately susceptible populations can result in the selection of resistant individuals and loss of insecticide sensitivity in certain areas—something that is particularly dangerous during large mosquito outbreaks following rainstorms, hurricanes, and other serious weather events. Insecticide resistance not only contributes to wasted time and resources but it also endangers communities through increased disease transmission.

mosquito lab testingThe best way to prevent insecticide resistance is ongoing monitoring. IMM programs incorporate strategic monitoring efforts throughout the management season to gather information about species bionomics, active periods, host preferences, and the presence of disease. This knowledge about local mosquito populations is used to determine the severity of a nuisance outbreak and inform control efforts. 

Scientists have multiple ways to collect information. Each method is selected based on the unique challenges a community is facing.

mosquito trapsCDC Light Traps

These light traps, which were developed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, are considered the industry standard for mosquito surveillance and collection. Like the New Jersey light trap, it attracts many different species, but it is portable. A 6V battery powers a motorized fan that circulates carbon dioxide (CO2) as an attractant. Once they enter the trap, mosquitoes are sucked into a collection device. CDC traps are most effective when deployed at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.

mosquito trapsBG-Sentinel Trap

This trap is designed to capture Aedes albopictus (Asian Tiger mosquito) and Aedes aegypti (Yellow Fever mosquito), each of which are known to carry diseases, including Dengue, Chikungunya, Zika virus, and Yellow Fever. Both species thrive in urban environments where they can breed in natural and artificial containers such as gutters, bird baths, watering cans, and outdoor equipment. The BG-Sentinel trap, which is made of a tarp-like material, utilizes an attractant to lure mosquitoes into a funnel. The funnel is outfitted with an electric fan that pulls them into a net where they will remain until collection.

mosquito trapsGravid Trap

Gravid traps are designed to catch Culex mosquitoes, such as Culex tarsalis or Culex pipiens. These species are capable of spreading West Nile virus, St. Louis Encephalitis, and both Western and Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Each trap is filled with stagnant water containing organic matter like grass or hay to mimic natural breeding grounds. As Culex mosquitoes approach, they are sucked by an electric fan into the trap for future collection.

mosquito trapsNew Jersey Light Trap

The New Jersey light trap is effective at capturing a wide spectrum of mosquito species. It is typically used as a permanent device that’s mounted and powered by an outlet in target areas. The New Jersey light trap is a beneficial tool to support IMM programs—it is capable of collecting large quantities of local mosquitoes for scientific analysis and data collection. 

PCR Tests 

Clinical tests are commonly used in the industry to identify diseases. PCR tests, for example, allow laboratory technicians to detect different bacteria or viruses that have been transmitted by mosquitoes. Though PCR tests are also used to detect Covid-19, it’s important to note that mosquitoes do not spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

RAMP® WNv Tests

RAMP tests are also widely used in the industry. This highly-sensitive test is designed to detect West Nile virus in mosquitoes. A RAMP test can be conducted quickly and efficiently in-house, making it particularly useful following hurricanes and weather events.

lab testing

CDC Bottle Bioassay

One of the most important tools when monitoring for insecticide resistance is the CDC Bottle Bioassay. As part of the testing process, bottles are coated with a diluted pesticide solution and then paired with a control group. Female adult mosquitoes are deposited into each bottle, where they are exposed to stressful conditions. Mortality data is then collected and analyzed by scientists for evidence of insecticide resistance. 

Larval Cup Bioassay

Larvicides are central to proactive mosquito management programs, and resistance is less common; however, it can still occur. Larval control agents work through either ingestion or contact with the target host, depending on the product used. Like the bottle bioassay process, cups are coated with bacterial larvicides like Bacillus thuringiensis israliensis (Bti), Bacillus sphaericus (Bs), or Spinosad and examined for mortality data. 

insecticide resistance - bottle assay

Modern GPS/GIS technologies have made it possible to gather large amounts of data for site mapping, disease tracking, and analysis. This information can be compared over time to identify trends or patterns that help advise the direction of management programs and ensure ongoing compliance with regulatory standards. 

Now, GPS technologies are being integrated into advanced aerial equipment. VDCI’s state of the art drones give technicians a birds-eye-view of target sites for more streamlined site surveillance and mapping, as well as more precise pesticide applications. Likewise, advanced drones allow experts to observe and treat areas that are dangerous, like swamps and wetlands, or more private, like HOAs and other large communities.

drone surveillance

Scientists have many advanced tools at their disposal for trapping, species identification, and disease testing, but the most valuable approach is preventative management. Proactive surveillance, monitoring, communication, and stakeholder education can help experts identify and quickly mitigate disease risks before a community is impacted. VDCI has the experience, necessary equipment, industry-leading technologies, and capabilities to handle all of your mosquito surveillance and disease monitoring needs.

Contact Our Experts​

Contact, or call, our experts at 866.977.6964 so that they can help you develop a custom IMM program to meet your community’s needs.

VDCI_Logo_squareSince 1992, Vector Disease Control International (VDCI) has taken pride in providing municipalities, mosquito abatement districts, industrial sites, planned communities, homeowners associations, and golf courses with the tools they need to run effective mosquito control programs. We are determined to protect the public health of the communities in which we operate. Our mosquito control professionals have over 100 years of combined experience in the field of public health, specifically vector disease control. We strive to provide the most effective and scientifically sound mosquito surveillance and control programs possible based on an Integrated Mosquito Management approach recommended by the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). VDCI is the only company in the country that can manage all aspects of an integrated mosquito management program, from surveillance to disease testing to aerial application in emergency situations.

The IMM Advantage

CDC Mosquito control disease monitoring

The IMM Advantage

Mosquito — the eight-letter word that no one likes to hear or, even worse, be around. Community members can rely on several strategies to limit their itchy bites and thwart the pests – from insect repellents to reducing breeding habitats. However, these approaches alone will not produce lasting results or provide insights into the threat level that mosquito-borne diseases pose in your community. The safest, most effective, and long-lasting solution is prevention through a proactive and holistic Integrated Mosquito Management (IMM) program, which targets mosquitoes at all stages of their life cycle, giving your community peace of mind.

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A successful IMM program leans on both science-based tactics and educational initiatives:

CDC Mosquito control disease monitoringSurveillance & Disease Testing

Surveillance involves close observation and analysis of mosquito populations, distribution, density, and species composition throughout a targeted area. By gathering extensive data, scientists can create a customized management approach that’s designed to target mosquitoes in the right areas, at the right times, with the right product. This optimizes product use and most effectively reduces the risk of vector-borne disease.

Mosquito management strategies vary depending on their lifecycle stage. For example, mosquitoes require water to lay their eggs, and larval surveillance data allow experts to identify these habitats and treat them using biological control or EPA-registered larvicides.

The management of adult mosquitoes can be more complex. When it comes to adult mosquito surveillance, experts often utilize mosquito traps to collect, count, and identify mosquito species and determine the particular disease risk in a given area. Each mosquito species has unique host preferences, activity times, and habitat use. Certain species are also more likely to carry and transmit pathogens. Correctly identifying species and understanding their bionomics helps ensure they are managed most effectively. 

insecticide resistanceMonitoring for Insecticide Resistance

An important component of IMM programs is insecticide resistance. Monitoring for chemical resistance should begin at the start of the season and continue throughout the season. Long-term resistance data is valuable because it allows experts to identify trends and modify their mosquito management approach as needed. 

Insecticide resistance most often occurs due to overuse or overreliance on a single class of products. The continued use may reduce population sensitivity and eventually cause selection for resistant insects. Irresponsible product use by homeowners and agriculture can undermine mosquito control efforts, waste funds and resources, and increase the risk of an unmanageable disease crisis. The 2016 Zika outbreak in Miami-Dade County after Hurricane Irma illustrated the reality and danger of insecticide resistance.

Technologies Utilized in Mosquito Control

Ground Crews

Vector-control specialists rely on many types of tools and technologies to achieve mosquito control. Ground crews utilize backpack power sprayers or Ultra-Low Volume (ULV) spray trucks capable of treating highly specific areas. Equipment is specially designed and calibrated for optimal product distribution, with all data recorded in VDCI’s proprietary database. 

vdci spraying mosquito control treatment

Aerial Fleet

Aircraft can be used to treat habitats that are difficult to access due to flooding, compromised infrastructure, or road closures. VDCI’s aerial fleet utilizes highly specialized technology and incorporates real-time meteorological data to determine optimal application efficacy.  

In addition to specialized aircraft, VDCI also utilizes state-of-the-art drones (unmanned aerial systems) that are programmed with advanced GPS technology to map target sites and ensure the precise application of liquid or granular products. Drones bridge the gap between ground and plane applications and allow for wide-area coverage of previously unreachable terrain.

drone applications for mosquito control

Public Education

Mosquito management initiatives backed by science and modern technologies can be highly effective, but a lack of public awareness can ultimately limit the success of these efforts. The role of public education in an IMM program cannot be overlooked. Not only will informed citizens better protect themselves from vector-borne diseases, but they can also assist in removing mosquito habitats and reporting areas of concern.

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Public education starts with establishing strategic partnerships within the community. VDCI partners with health departments, schools, churches, and other community groups to share accurate information and strategies to support city and state governments or mosquito abatement districts. Community members are taught to remember the 4 D’s:

  • Defend – Protect yourself by using an EPA-approved repellent.
  • Dress – Wear light-colored clothing, closed-toe shoes, long sleeves, and long pants when spending time outside.
  • Drain – Mosquitoes need water to complete their life cycle, and even something as small as a bottle cap can hold dozens of mosquito larvae.
  • Dusk & Dawn – Stay indoors during these times of day when mosquitoes are most active. 

There is no one solution to control mosquitoes. IMM programs are complex, customized, and ever-changing. Success is best achieved by merging surveillance and monitoring efforts with advanced knowledge and technology. And the better the community understands its role in that equation, the more favorable the outcome can be.

Contact Our Experts

Contact, or call, our experts at 866.977.6964 so that they can help you develop a custom IMM program to meet your community’s needs.

VDCI_Logo_squareSince 1992, Vector Disease Control International (VDCI) has taken pride in providing municipalities, mosquito abatement districts, industrial sites, planned communities, homeowners associations, and golf courses with the tools they need to run effective mosquito control programs. We are determined to protect the public health of the communities in which we operate. Our mosquito control professionals have over 100 years of combined experience in the field of public health, specifically vector disease control. We strive to provide the most effective and scientifically sound mosquito surveillance and control programs possible based on an Integrated Mosquito Management approach recommended by the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). VDCI is the only company in the country that can manage all aspects of an integrated mosquito management program, from surveillance to disease testing to aerial application in emergency situations.

How Surveillance and Disease Testing Reduces the Threat of Mosquito-borne Diseases

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How Surveillance and Disease Testing Reduces the Threat of Mosquito-borne Diseases

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In order to execute a successful integrated mosquito management program, surveillance is key. Through surveillance, entomologists are able to identify species composition, population dynamics, and the threat of dangerous mosquito-borne diseases. This information helps decision-makers choose the most effective management approach to control mosquitoes and protect community members in their area.

Mosquito Surveillance & Disease Testing Reduce Mosquito-borne Disease 3Adult mosquito surveillance is conducted in areas that have historically produced mosquito populations of a nuisance and/or public health concern or in novel areas in response to natural disasters like flash floods and hurricanes. Adult surveillance is accomplished through the use of specialized traps that are strategically placed throughout a given area. Traps are selected and placed based on mosquito concentrations, activity periods, and habitat characteristics like climate, wind, weather, and time of year. 

Trapped mosquitoes are then taken back to a laboratory for scientific examination, which involves species identification and counting. While some areas are primarily impacted by a single mosquito species, others may be home to vast and diverse populations. Entomologists study physical markers like colors and patterns of scales, setea, spines, and other features to distinguish between the 175+ species found in North America. Examinations also include disease testing. Different mosquito species are known for carrying specific pathogens such as West Nile virus (WNv)MalariaEastern Equine EncephalitisDengue FeverYellow FeverZika Virus, and Chikungunya.

CDCMosquito Mosquito Surveillance & Disease Testing Reduce Mosquito-borne Disease 5

Armed with this knowledge, entomologists can determine the severity of an outbreak and respond with the most effective management solutions based on the habits and characteristics of the target species. Often, experts utilize either truck-mounted sprayers, drone technology, or aerial fleets to apply adulticides at the proper rate and product droplet size. During this process, GPS technology is used to ensure safe and even distribution across large areas.

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These mosquito elimination efforts are most effective when conducted as part of a customized Integrated Mosquito Management (IMM) program. IMM programs use a comprehensive toolbox of solutions to target mosquito populations and proactively prevent them. These programs typically require coordination between many different stakeholders, municipal entities, and public education providers. They may also evolve significantly over time in response to species population surges and possible insecticide resistance. 

Ultimately, no matter what kinds of challenges a community faces, consistent surveillance and disease monitoring serve as the foundation of their management efforts. Discover how our team can support an existing program or help you develop a custom program to meet your community’s needs by contacting our mosquito experts or calling us at 866.473.1753.

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VDCI_Logo_squareSince 1992, Vector Disease Control International (VDCI) has taken pride in providing municipalities, mosquito abatement districts, industrial sites, planned communities, homeowners associations, and golf courses with the tools they need to run effective mosquito control programs. We are determined to protect the public health of the communities in which we operate. Our mosquito control professionals have over 100 years of combined experience in the field of public health, specifically vector disease control. We strive to provide the most effective and scientifically sound mosquito surveillance and control programs possible based on an Integrated Mosquito Management approach recommended by the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). VDCI is the only company in the country that can manage all aspects of an integrated mosquito management program, from surveillance to disease testing to aerial application in emergency situations.

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Introducing Drone Technology to Our Aerial Fleet

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Introducing Drone Technology to Our Aerial Fleet

VDCI is dedicated to leading the charge on innovations within the vector control industry. Dual-engine aircrafts, specialized GPS-monitoring systems, and cutting-edge surveillance technologies have remained a staple for our advanced treatment strategies and natural disaster response efforts. Now, VDCI is expanding capabilities with the use of aerial drone technology.

Why use drones?

Drones fulfill the growing need for mosquito management services in more compact or sensitive areas. VDCI’s drone fleet is designed with state-of-the-art equipment that lends speed, precision, and discretion to existing ground operations, particularly across dense, unstable terrain or ecologically protected habitats. These hard-to-reach spots can be inaccessible to teams in trucks or on foot, making mosquito control initiatives more tedious, dangerous, and costly. 

Drones fill the gap between ground and plane applications in these kinds of locations. This highly maneuverable technology uses GPS technology to access mapped target sites, and guide precision applications using a variety of products. 

Who operates the drones?

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In contrast to hobbyist drones, our unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are custom-built by Leading Edge Aerial Technologies, Inc. for commercial applications. Each drone exhibits a 6ft wingspan and is equipped with superior features that are operated remotely by a professional team.

Each drone pilot is licensed through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and has extensive knowledge of airspace regulations, maintenance procedures, and emergency response. These experts are also experienced with superior drone programming techniques that facilitate up to 150 acres of product applications per day.

Are they safe?

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Not only do drones help our ground application crews avoid navigating precarious locations like swamps and wetlands – which can be home to alligators, snakes, and other dangerous species – their rechargeable electric batteries can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These precautions and sustainable initiatives directly align with VDCI’s commitment to always protecting both the environment and our people. 

Additionally, drones are especially quiet and unobtrusive around residential spaces. They are configured with software that block filming, so homeowners can have peace of mind while mosquito management efforts take place nearby.

Another tool in our advanced toolbox:

VDCI lab testing vial mosquito control education

Drones are transforming the way we approach vector control programs, and the technology will continue to progress at a rapid rate. Nevertheless, drones are but one tool in our arsenal of advanced solutions that comprise an Integrated Mosquito Management (IMM) program. A layered IMM approach that integrates a multitude of strategies will generate the most effective and long-lasting results for stakeholders.

Have more questions?

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Feel free to contact our mosquito experts or give us a call at 800-413-4445, and we’ll get back to you promptly. Or download our free guide for more information.

Government Partners in Mosquito and Tick ManagementSince 1992, Vector Disease Control International (VDCI) has taken pride in providing municipalities, mosquito abatement districts, industrial sites, planned communities, homeowners associations, and golf courses with the tools they need to run effective mosquito control programs. We are determined to protect the public health of the communities in which we operate. Our mosquito control professionals have over 100 years of combined experience in the field of public health, specifically vector disease control. We strive to provide the most effective and scientifically sound mosquito surveillance and control programs possible based on an Integrated Mosquito Management approach recommended by the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). VDCI is the only company in the country that can manage all aspects of an integrated mosquito management program, from surveillance to disease testing to aerial application in emergency situations.

The Four Pillars of an Effective Mosquito Management Program

mosquito surveillance and testing

The Four Pillars of an Effective Mosquito Management Program

VDCI_4PillarsIMM_Infographic_0221_REVMosquito bites are an unfortunate side effect of time spent outdoors. But in addition to being a nuisance, mosquitoes are responsible for the transmission of many dangerous diseases including West Nile, Encephalitis, Zika, Malaria, and Yellow Fever. Because of these diseases, mosquitoes are considered the deadliest animal in the world. By understanding mosquito populations in your community, it is possible to reduce the risk of mosquito-borne diseases and enhance the overall enjoyment of the great outdoors.

Mosquitoes are an age-old problem, but modern strategies and innovations have made it possible to curb local populations by safely targeting the insect at all life stages. This is important for mosquito abatement districts, municipalities, and county or state entities responsible for leading vector management programs. These efforts are supported by four interlocked pillars that comprise an Integrated Mosquito Management (IMM) program: 

Surveillance & Disease Testing 

mosquito surveillance and testingThe more entomological experts can learn about population dynamics and species composition in a given area, the more efficiently they can target the problem at its source. Consistent surveillance and disease testing facilitate a greater understanding of the ever-changing challenges surrounding mosquito control, such as local population resistance and environmental considerations. GPS equipment and laboratory examinations by scientific experts play a critical role in data collection. This data is entered into proprietary databases for analysis, mapping, and reporting to local government agencies for coordinated management efforts.

Public Education

pubic education mosquito control helping the communityDespite the strategic and technological advances made in recent decades, mosquito control programs cannot be maximized without cooperation from the entire local community. Therefore, public education is an equally important pillar of an effective IMM plan. Depending on stakeholder goals, community education can be accomplished in a number of ways, including public education campaigns, the distribution of brochures or fact sheets, and partnership with the health department to encourage the use of repellents and protective clothing. When individuals take preventative steps to remove standing water from their property they can help community efforts. 

An integrated mosquito management approach often requires coordination between many different stakeholders and is most effective when rooted in the expertise of scientists and entomological experts. While mosquito control strategies and technologies continue to evolve, it’s important to remember that public education and surveillance will always go hand in hand with larval and adult mosquito control efforts. 

Larval Mosquito Control 

vdci mosquito surveillance Targeting mosquitoes before they become adults is essential for any good program. That’s where proactive ground services come into play. IMM professionals specialize in understanding and identifying environments that foster mosquito development, like ditches, ponds, and stormwater drains. This knowledge helps experts shape and implement custom solutions that target the unique area. These might include source reduction, habitat modification, the introduction of natural predators like mosquitofish, or the application of EPA-registered larvicides to achieve sustainable control from the ground or, for vast areas, from above using advanced aerial technology.

Adult Mosquito Control

aerial spraying mosquito controlAlthough surveillance and larviciding should be the first steps in any mosquito control program, the control of adult mosquito populations is a critical component of an integrated mosquito management effort. Utilizing either truck-mounted sprayers or aerial application equipment we are able to make highly-targeted applications to knockdown mosquitoes during their peak activity period. To ensure a successful application, advanced spray technologies must produce a proper product droplet size and utilize GPS technology to ensure safe and even distribution across large areas.

DID YOU KNOW?

Hurricanes present several public health concerns, including a rapid surge in mosquito populations, which can disrupt recovery efforts and could lead to an increased risk of mosquito-borne diseases such as the West Nile. In order to deal with this problem, aerial applications of insecticides over wide areas can provide relief to the impacted area, assisting in the recovery efforts.

Ways to Protect Your Home From Mosquitoes

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While there are more than 3,000 species of mosquitoes in the world, there are fewer than 200 species in the United States. Regardless of the number of species, mosquitoes play a significant role in how American communities and individuals enjoy outdoor activities. To what extent you’ll be affected depends on the climate, desirable habitat, and several other factors and variables unique to your region.Continue reading

Why Are Mosquitoes Crossing State Lines?

Written by Kelsey Renfro, Ecologist, Taxonomist, and Laboratory Manager in Colorado

 

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Generally, in Colorado, we spend day after day digging through piles of Aedes vexans, Culex pipiens, Culex tarsalis, and several other common species. When it comes to adult mosquito surveillance, our Denver office alone sets and collects over 200 traps per week. It can get pretty exciting while sorting through a pile of mosquitoes, during your normal monotonous routine, when a specimen that doesn’t seem to belong appears under your microscope. After running the unique arthropod through a dichotomous key (an identification tool), the excitement is heightened when you realize you have found a mosquito species never previously recorded in your state! In a single season, our Denver lab identified three (3) species that lacked historical records in the state of Colorado. Needless to say, our team was intrigued by the new discoveries and took on the challenge to monitor their presence during the remainder of the season as well as throughout the next year.

The obvious question was, “Why are new species entering Colorado?” The state has seen a substantial increase in people moving in over the last decade. Could the influx of human residents be playing a role in the introduction of the 6-legged residents? Are changes by Mother Nature contributing to the mosquito species crossing state lines? Or a combination of the above?
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Mosquitoes Playing Hard to Get? Consider Resistance Monitoring

Written By Kellie Nestrud, Biologist and Contract Manager in Louisiana

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There are several different components of a successful Integrated Mosquito Management (IMM) program. The consideration of chemical resistance in the local mosquito population is one of the components. Knowing, understanding, and monitoring for chemical resistance should begin as early as possible in an IMM program. It is recommended that all IMM programs monitor their mosquito populations for resistance at the beginning of a season and as often throughout the season as thought necessary. Resistance data is most valuable when collected over time to allow for comparison and monitoring of trends. There are many methods to monitor the effectiveness of an insecticide, and program managers may need to adjust their approach from season to season.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines that a population of mosquitoes is considered to be resistant to an insecticide if a mortality rate is less than 90%. So how would one know if they are working with a population that has resistance?
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Mosquito Surveillance – Part 2: Life at the Lab Identifying Species and Disease Testing

Written By Michael “Doc” Weissmann, Ph.D., Chief Entomologist

As discussed in a previous Mosquito Surveillance blog post, a well-designed surveillance program provides important information necessary to guide a modern mosquito control program. However, trapping the mosquitoes is only the first step in surveillance. Once the mosquito specimens are collected, they must be processed in the laboratory.

lab-mosquito-identification-250x166.jpgOnce the sample is euthanized, the mosquitoes are counted to determine how many were captured. If the trap count is very high, the numbers are estimated and only a sample is identified. How high is high? In locations without mosquito control and with good sources of water, nectar, blood-meals, and harborage, trap counts in the tens of thousands of mosquitoes in one night have been recorded, and not just in the tropics!

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Mosquito Surveillance – Part 1: The Art of Hunting Mosquitoes

Written By Michael “Doc” Weissmann, Ph.D., Chief Entomologist

I may be biased, but in my opinion surveillance is the most critical component of the Integrated Pest Management method of controlling insect pests. In modern mosquito control programs, surveillance includes setting traps to monitor adult mosquito populations in a given area.

harvey-emergency-response-truck-surveillance-250x166-blog_TX-danm.jpgA good surveillance strategy includes choosing the right kind(s) of traps to use that meet the goals of the control program. For example, most female mosquitoes are attracted to carbon-dioxide given off by a breathing animal that would be a potential source for a blood-meal. A CObaited light trap utilizes dry ice or some other source of carbon-dioxide to mimic the breathing of an animal blood source, with a small light bulb to draw the mosquitoes close enough to the trap fan for capture. Egg-laying females of species that live as larvae in smaller, water-filled containers can be collected with Gravid Traps. These consist of a fan and net suspended above a container of “highly organic” water as bait (usually an infusion of fermented hay and other ingredients). Many mosquito species are attracted to light, and a New Jersey light trap draws them into a fan using a bright light as bait, but with the unfortunate side-effect of collecting many other species of flies, beetles, and moths that also come to lights – in some locations at certain times of year it can be quite a chore to pick through the non-mosquitoes that are also collected. Surveys for Aedes aegypti – the primary vector of Yellow Fever, Chikungunya, Dengue, Zika, and other viruses – and the related Asian Tiger mosquito (Ae. albopictus) often utilize BG Sentinel traps and lethal ovitraps to attract egg-laying females of these “container-breeding” species.

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