“I’ve lived in this town for over 30 years and I’ve never seen mosquitoes this bad!” A phrase we commonly hear from every caller concerned with mosquitoes in and around their home and likely the same phrase that started mosquito control in California over a hundred years ago! The Shasta Mosquito and Vector Control District (SMVCD) was created in 1919 to prevent malaria in Shasta County and our mission to protect the public’s health has remained unchanged throughout the years. Although our mission is still the same, the way we control mosquitoes has evolved pretty dramatically.
Today the District utilizes Integrated Vector Management (IVM) techniques to prevent mosquito transmitted diseases. IVM is defined as a “science based decision-making process that seeks to improve efficacy, cost-effectiveness, and ecological soundness.” Put another way, you wouldn’t want your auto mechanic to start tearing out your transmission based on your report of general car troubles. You would want them to collect data, identify the most likely culprit for the trouble and choose the best, quickest, and cheapest way to go about fixing your car. So although it may seem obvious to the person being bitten, mosquito equals bite, the complexity behind the mosquito control for each of the 20+ mosquito species we deal with on a regular basis can vary widely. This “diagnostic” or in mosquito control terms “surveillance” is essential to every adult mosquito complaint we hear.
So what control options does the District have beyond the classic chemical control? Well, although chemical control has not lost its important place in our tool bag, we now put a larger focus on adult mosquito prevention. If we can reduce the mosquito populations before they become adults we can greatly reduce the time spent controlling adult mosquitoes. Eliminating standing water where immature mosquitoes live, using biological organisms and selecting control products that are designed to work on immature mosquitoes, ensure fewer adult mosquitoes flying and ready to bite!
Mosquito Control is a community effort and if we can all do a little, a lot can be accomplished! So how can the average person help us and themselves get fewer, or hopefully, no mosquito bites? The most important steps to mosquito bite prevention always start with the 4 D’s:
- Drain or dump any standing water around your house, this includes gutters, flower pots, and anything that can hold water.
- Dusk and dawn are the times when mosquitoes will be at their most active, so limiting your time at those peak hours will help reduce your exposure.
- Dress in long sleeves and pants if you know you are going to be out where mosquitoes will be biting.
- Defend yourself and your family against bites by using an EPA approved repellent
For more information please contact the Shasta MVCD at (530) 365-3768 or visit www.shastamosquito.org.
Written by Peter Bonkrude, District Manager