Utilizing Science and Technology to Manage Mosquitoes
Although 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. People often associate adult mosquito control with “truck spraying.” While a truck-mounted sprayer is often the delivery mechanism of choice, there are several other aspects you should take into account.Below are seven considerations for anyone considering an adulticide application.
1. Know the Target Mosquito – Surveillance of mosquito populations is critical for an effective adult mosquito control application. Surveillance allows us to understand not only the number of mosquitoes present but also the distribution of species in a given area. Culex mosquitoes fly at certain times of night (depending on the geography, temperature, and daylight) and are more susceptible to certain types of products. An Anopheles mosquito can behave quite differently and might require a different product or application rate. In summary, there are many decisions to make when considering an application for adult mosquito control and the first piece of information to understand when making those decisions is the species of mosquito that one is targeting.
2. Know the Label – The label is the law and must be followed at all times. In addition to providing safety and handling information, the label outlines the proper application rate for the product. Based on the range of application rates, one must determine at what label rate he/she wishes to make the application. Different label rates are appropriate in different environmental situations for different species and even different densities.
3. Variable Flow Control – In the old days of mosquito control, application equipment generally had only one flow rate. In other words, the same amount of product was applied whether a truck was driving at 5 miles per hour or 15 miles per hour. Since it is difficult to drive one speed at all times, this resulted in inconsistent application rates. Thankfully, today’s technology allows mosquito control professionals to adjust the flow rate of their application equipment based on the speed of the truck. In fact, this happens automatically based on GPS information. The speed of the truck is fed into the application equipment, which then automatically adjusts its pump speed, resulting in variable flow rates. This has three main benefits:
a. Consistent application rates. This technology ensures you are applying at the desired rate.
b. Environmentally sustainable. Variable flow ensures that we are not over-applying product. On the same note, it also ensures that we are not under-applying product, which can lead to mosquito resistance.
c. By ensuring you are applying according to label rates, variable flow technology ensures you are performing your adult mosquito control application according to the label requirements.
4. Calibration of Spray Equipment – Due to regular “wear and tear,” equipment can adjust over time. It is important to regularly calibrate your application equipment. For example, if your flow rate is set at 5 ounces per minute, you must regularly confirm that the equipment is dispensing product at that rate. One must pick the desired flow rate based on the label and the target mosquito. Before any application, you should confirm that the equipment is indeed calibrated for the exact flow rate you would like to achieve. Once the flow rate is calibrated, the variable flow process ensures that the properly calibrated amount of product is applied (see above).
5. Droplet Characterization – Similar to calibrating the flow rate of a machine, you should ensure that the equipment is producing droplets of product that are perfectly sized for mosquito control. Droplets that are too small will not kill the mosquito and can even lead to resistance. On the other hand, droplets that are too large will not drift through the target area and fall to the ground, not having any affect at all on the mosquito population either. Furthermore, proper droplet size can help to minimize the effects on non-target and beneficial insect populations. Droplet characterization requires advanced equipment to determine the size of each droplet your equipment is producing.
6. GPS Monitoring – All adult mosquito control applications should be monitored using GPS technology. This technology allows you to see the status of the application equipment (on or off) and the amount of product that was applied. In addition, GPS monitoring can allow for ‘spray maps’ to be created, which can be a good communication tool for the public and help to ensure that intended target areas were evenly covered.
7. Record keeping – Maintaining data is a critical component of any Integrated Mosquito Management program and this is no different when it comes to adult mosquito control. Paper records should be considered an absolute minimum; ideally, a database of some kind is utilized to maintain application records.
A critical component of any Integrated Mosquito Management program is adult mosquito control. A successful adult control program should be one of the primary pillars for controlling nuisance and disease-vectoring mosquitoes. If you are not spraying at the right time, in the right place, and with the right flow rate, your effectiveness will be greatly reduced. There are many considerations to ensure an effective program, but you can contact a professional applicator at Vector Disease Control International (VDCI) with additional questions or to set up your community or business’ mosquito control program today.
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Since 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.