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.

Reshaping the Mosquito Control Industry with Advanced Technology

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Every year, new technologies emerge that help keep people safer, healthier, and happier. This includes technologies used in the mosquito management industry.

Vector-borne diseases spread by mosquitoes are responsible for killing more than one million people annually. That’s why the development of new innovations is key in the mission to prevent mosquitoes from endangering communities worldwide. 

When we choose to utilize advanced technologies, it’s because they enhance the accuracy, efficacy, and safety of our work. Here are some of the innovations we utilize as part of an Integrated Mosquito Management program to help keep the communities we serve safe.

Without data, it’s difficult to understand the effectiveness of mosquito control efforts or fully demonstrate to stakeholders the financial return of their investment. It’s also more challenging to strategize an effective management plan. GIS mapping can be utilized in nearly every facet of an integrated mosquito management program, from tracking larval and adulticide applications to monitoring mosquito populations and disease data. Over time, this information can be analyzed to identify trends or patterns and determine the overall impact of treatment efforts.

arcmap_biggerBeyond the day to day operations of an IMM program, GIS technology has several other applications. GIS serves as a critical tool for regulatory compliance, as maps can be used to both assure compliance and also streamline requirements for initiatives like NPDES permitting. Maps that show disease monitoring in a given area can also be used to support public education and communications throughout the community. Lastly, federal, state, and local governments use GIS to aid in emergency response efforts.

Mosquito Trapping and Lab Analysis

Mosquito Surveillance & Disease Testing Reduce Mosquito-borne Disease 3Mosquito traps are not used to control adult mosquitoes; rather, they serve as an important tool for collecting data on species distribution, population dynamics, and calculating disease risk based on vector competence.

Our professionals utilize several types of traps, including the CDC Miniature Light Trap, Gravid Trap, BG-Sentinel, and New Jersey Light Trap, just to name a few.  Collection, counting, and identification of the mosquitoes help staff determine which abatement solutions should be employed.  Once collected, mosquitoes also undergo professional testing and analysis at the lab. Oftentimes, the diseases mosquitoes can transmit can be detected in the mosquitoes themselves weeks before they can be passed on to their human and animal hosts. This gives mosquito management experts a window of opportunity to take action to reduce the risk of human disease transmission in the local community.

Mosquito management professionals utilize several technologies when conducting larviciding and adulticiding applications.

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Ground Application Technology

For smaller areas, crews may choose to perform ground applications using either backpacks or power sprayers capable of holding 2-100 gallons of product.  Whether an application is done by hand or with specialized truck-based equipment, they’re calibrated frequently, and all applications are recorded in VDCI”s proprietary database.  

Planes

For large areas that need to be treated quickly or places you simply can’t access with vehicles, aerial fleets are the go-to option. VDCI operates one of the world’s largest aerial fleets dedicated to mosquito control and services customers from coast to coast.

Aerial Spraying Malcom 9

Aircraft equipped for adult mosquito control utilize the Wingman® GX spray optimization and guidance software in addition to an AIMMS-20 onboard meteorological probe to ensure the most effective application possible. This integrated system is the only scientifically validated one of its kind that incorporates constant real-time meteorological data at the release height to optimize the entire application. This optimization ensures that the maximum spray cloud droplet density is delivered to the target zones, thus providing you with the maximum level of mosquito control.

Each member of VDCI’s flight crew is highly trained and licensed through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Crews utilize military-grade ANVIS -6 night vision goggles on all nighttime spray missions to increase visibility and accuracy. At the completion of each spray mission, data is downloaded from the aircraft, and reports are generated, providing our customers with a visual depiction of the spray mission, along with the vital statistics of each spray.

Unmanned Aerial Drones

Recent advancements in drone technology have provided a new way to reach and treat areas that were previously inaccessible via ground or plane.

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Our drones 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. Drones are supported by GPS technology to access mapped target sites and guide precision applications using a variety of liquid or granular products. They are also configured with state-of-the-art software that blocks filming, so homeowners can have peace of mind while drone applications occur nearby.

VDCI Remains At The Forefront of Vector Industry Advancements

VDCI is committed to staying at the forefront of technological advancements in the mosquito management industry and creating new standards for safety and efficiency. We employ a wide array of technology, ranging from advanced software systems to state-of-the-art application equipment, to provide you with the most comprehensive mosquito management services possible. Contact or call our experts at 866.977.6964 to discuss the most effective control solutions for your community.

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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.

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.

Mosquito Management Trucks: Science on Wheels

Written By Rob Kozar, Front Range Regional Director – Colorado

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Like cell phones, computers, and domestic beer, today’s adult mosquito fogging trucks bear little resemblance to their predecessors from the not too distant past. While Ultra Low Volume (ULV) fogging machines have been in use for decades the technology to collect data, map, and apply pesticides in the pursuit of controlling adult mosquito populations is as cutting-edge as never before. The utilization of such technology allows mosquito control professionals across the country to practice adult mosquito control via a “science on wheels” approach which places primacy on accuracy, efficacy, and safety as well as the capacity to generate information useful and frequently necessary for clients in addition to helping the employee performing the application.
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Getting Smart With Technology: GIS and Mosquito Management

Written By Deborah Bennett, GIS Specialist

A geographic information system, GIS, is a set of tools that allow us to visualize, question, analyze, and interpret data. By creating maps, reports, or charts, you can reveal relationships, patterns, or trends in data that often play a significant role in decision making.

technician-gis-data-gps-edwin-wilkinson-250x144_dallas-TX-jasonwGIS is designed to capture data and store it in various digital formats (individual files, databases, geodatabases, etc.) so that data can be edited and managed with ease. Most industries and businesses of all sizes can benefit from GIS to improve record keeping, provide guidance on where to apply financial and human resources, and support communication and education efforts with employees and customers. The technology offers a variety of data to assist in decision making, which is vital within industries that manage time-sensitive projects and/or services where public education and public health is a concern.

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Urban Mosquito Management: Success of Truck-Based Wide-Area Larvicide Application

Written By Broox Boze, Ph.D.

Cities around the globe continue to learn about new control methods that can protect their growing populations from disease-carrying insects.

ulv-truck-250x255_brooxb.pngThe emergence of Zika virus in the Americas brought to light many of the challenges facing mosquito control programs and abatement districts throughout the world as well as within the United States. Traditional door-to-door interventions for managing urban mosquitoes such as Aedes aegypti (Yellow Fever mosquito) and Aedes albopictus (Asian Tiger mosquito) have put financial stress on many programs and encouraged investigation into novel or alternate application technologies. It can prove challenging to supply enough manpower to turn over every flowerpot, remove garbage, and inspect every clogged gutter in densely populated areas. Residential technicians also find limited access to private commercial and individual properties and are challenged to identify or access the small and cryptic breeding grounds utilized by these invasive urban mosquito species. The new public health threat associated with Zika, combined with management obstacles, have forced new thinking on how to control mosquitoes within densely populated areas.

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