Integrated Mosquito Management (IMM) is a term that everyone in the field of public health mosquito and vector-borne disease control is familiar with. The American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) defines IMM as, “a comprehensive mosquito prevention and control strategy that utilizes all available mosquito control methods, either singly or in combination, to exploit the known vulnerabilities of mosquitoes to reduce their numbers while maintaining a quality environment.” This definition describes what Integrated Mosquito Management is, but why is IMM the best practice for controlling mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases?
As the definition states, the goal of any IMM program is the reduction of mosquito populations through the use of environmentally sound methods. As such, the best way to achieve this goal is through the combined use of whichever strategies and tactics are available for each individual IMM program. Because of the great variety of mosquito species and habitats, mosquito-borne diseases, local nuisance tolerances, program budgets, and pesticide use preferences throughout the world, it is important that each individual IMM program has the flexibility to use the combination of methods that will best accomplish their specific mosquito control needs. An effective Integrated Mosquito Management program will use some combination of the following principles to accomplish its specific goals:
1) Larval and Adult Mosquito Surveillance (including disease testing)
2) Source Reduction and Physical Control through Habitat Manipulation
3) Larval Mosquito Control
4) Adult Mosquito Control (including efficacy and pesticide resistance testing)
5) Public Education and Outreach
Species and Habitat Diversity
With more than 3,000 mosquito species in the world, and over 175 in the United States alone, it is easy to understand why integrating these principles and practices is important to the success of a mosquito abatement program. Different mosquito species have different preferences for everything from larval habitat to host species to peak activity period. Therefore, there is not an effective single strategy for controlling all species across all geographies. By using scientific information about the local mosquito species’ preferences, managers can decide which principles and practices will provide the best control of the mosquitoes in their particular area.
Mosquito-borne diseases, such as malaria, West Nile virus, Zika virus, and Heartworm disease, are a major concern for public health professionals because these diseases cause widespread illness in both people and animals, as well as hundreds of thousands of deaths, every year. Once again, different mosquito species cause different problems because they can transmit different diseases. As such, designing and implementing an IMM program that utilizes the most effective tactics to control the specific species that carry the specific diseases of concern in an area is the best way to help reduce their transmission to both people and animals.
Local Nuisance Tolerance
The local tolerance for nuisance mosquitoes is also an important consideration when determining what IMM principles should be integrated into a mosquito control program. Some residents may not want to see a single mosquito in their neighborhood all summer, while other people are either less bothered by biting mosquitoes or live in an area where it is simply not possible to eliminate them all. IMM program managers must then decide which mosquito control strategies and tactics will allow them to create an environment acceptable to local residents. While it’s often not possible to please everyone, choosing the best combination of IMM principles to integrate into their program will yield the best results and satisfy the most people.
For most IMM programs the ultimate goal is a practical reduction of the local mosquito populations based upon their budget. Quite often, designing a program that integrates as many of the primary IMM principles as possible is limited by the available financial resources. While a larger budget will usually allow for the integration of more components into a successful IMM program, the strategic use of less expensive practices can still yield good results and provide an effective IMM program. Surveillance and public education, for example, are some of the less expensive components of an IMM program, and, depending upon the circumstances, they can provide both information about mosquito populations and disease threats. In addition, public education can protect residents by teaching them about personal protection measures. This can include how to reduce mosquito habitat around their homes and reduce the risk of being bitten by proactively using repellents, wearing proper clothing, and avoiding peak mosquito activity periods.
Finally, one of the primary goals of Integrated Mosquito Management is maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Everyone who works in mosquito and vector control understands the need to minimize any environmental impacts of our programs. By intelligently integrating as many of the principles and practices as possible into a responsible IMM program, any possible negative impacts on the environment will be greatly reduced or even eliminated.
These are just some examples of why Integrated Mosquito Management is the preferred strategy for operating a mosquito and mosquito-borne disease abatement program. By using a well-considered combination of scientifically based, environmentally sound principles and practices, mosquito control managers can tailor their management programs to fit the specific needs in their community and gain the best possible reduction in the local mosquito populations.
Tim Bennett attended Eastern New Mexico University, where he earned a B.S. degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Management followed by a M.S. degree in Biology. Tim is an active member of the Idaho Mosquito and Vector Control Association, serving as a long time Board Member and a previous President, the Northwest Mosquito and Vector Control Association, currently serving as the Idaho State Representative, and the West Central Mosquito and Vector Control Association.
Since 1992, Vector Disease Control International (VDCI) has taken pride in providing municipalities, mosquito abatement districts, military bases, industrial sites, planned communities, homeowners associations, and golf courses with the tools they need to run effective integrated tick and mosquito management. We are determined to protect the public health of the communities in which we operate. Our tick and mosquito management 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 tick and mosquito management program, from surveillance to disease testing to mosquito aerial application in emergency response situations.