During the summer months in subtropical and temperate regions and rainy seasons in tropical areas, mosquitoes are, at best, a nuisance because of their bites. These can cause itchy, red and inflamed patches on our skin. At worst, though, the bites can transmit some of the world’s deadliest diseases.
Out of about 3,500 mosquito species worldwide, only a few are responsible for the spread of dangerous human and domestic animal diseases. Species in three genera in particular, Aedes, Anopheles and Culex, are the main culprits. They’re responsible for transmission of diseases such as dengue, West Nile virus, chikungunya, Zika, Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEE), canine heartworm, malaria and yellow fever.
With climate and land use changes, especially urbanisation, mosquito-borne diseases are becoming a greater threat year by year. In 2020, many countries in South America, especially Brazil (over 1 million cases), and Southeast Asia have experienced large outbreaks of dengue.
In the US, EEE has been increasing in recent years and, in 2020, West Nile virus infections have been reported in humans in 12 states and animals in 23 states, according to the US Centers for Disease Control. One of the most invasive species, Aedes aegypti, is forecast to increase its range northwards in Europe, China and the US by about 6km per year up to 2050 due to climate change.
Protecting customers and staff from mosquitoes
Controlling mosquitoes is essential for businesses with outdoor areas, such as hospitality, education, leisure and sports and business complexes. Mosquito monitoring and control are needed to keep populations low or eliminated to prevent customers and staff from being bitten. A bad experience with mosquitoes can negatively affect customer satisfaction and perception of your brand, leading to loss of reputation and income.
The most effective method to control mosquitoes is to implement a comprehensive, integrated mosquito management (IMM) programme with professional help, but there are some measures you can take yourself to control mosquito numbers. Here are some basic steps for protecting your business.
Remove stagnant water sources
Make sure natural or man-made water traps are removed, filled in or have proper drainage, where appropriate. Particular hotspots for mosquitoes to breed and thrive include the following.
- Poor drainage areas, such as ditches, swampy areas, vehicle tracks in soft soil, depressions in the ground, all need maintenance or filling in to prevent water build up.
- Objects that can collect water such as discarded food and drink containers, old tyres and buckets should be removed.
- Flower pot holders, bird baths and other objects that hold water for long periods need the water changing every week.
- Over-watered lawns can lead to stagnant water building up and remaining long enough for mosquitoes to breed.
- Leaks in pipework or air conditioning drainage and structural areas of buildings that trap water, especially in shaded areas, need maintaining to prevent the water building up.
- Gutters and downspouts can collect debris and become blocked, creating sites for mosquitoes. These should be inspected and cleaned regularly.
Manage adult mosquito resting sites
Adult mosquitoes rest in shaded areas during the day, such as under decks and along building foundations, in low vegetation. Remove tall weeds and dense vegetation, keep lawns mowed, cut back low-level overgrowth of trees and shrubs.
An environmentally safe adulticide can be sprayed onto leaves in areas of shady vegetation and on surfaces of buildings that will kill adult mosquitoes for several weeks.
Prevent mosquitoes getting inside your buildings
Keep doors and windows closed when not in use and install adequate screening for windows, doors and other openings, where possible. Seal any cracks and building defects that mosquitoes can fly or crawl through. Maintain screens by checking for and repairing holes and gaps.
Maintain outdoor swimming pools and ornamentals
Outdoor pools need to be properly maintained and chlorinated. They’re unlikely to become a breeding ground for mosquitoes as they need stagnant water with bacteria for larvae to feed on. Maintaining the correct amounts of oxygen and chlorine in the pool water will remove mosquito larva food sources. Ornamental pools can be stocked with larva-eating fish or aerated to keep water moving.
Provide a protective uniform for your employees
If your employees wear uniforms, make sure they’re protective, durable and comfortable. Loose-fitting, light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and trousers can help to keep mosquitoes away as exposed areas are easy targets. Mosquitoes can bite through holes in sandals and tight-fitting clothing – even when it’s as thick as denim – as the fabric is close enough to the skin to allow bites.
Use approved mosquito repellents
Encourage staff and guests to use a mosquito repellent that contains approved active ingredients. In the USA, for example, ingredients such as DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), Picaridin (KBR 3023), or IR3535 are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
By using mosquito repellents with tested and approved active ingredients, your customers, visitors and staff are getting the safest protection from nuisance-biting mosquitoes and from the dangers of mosquito-borne diseases.
You can also provide mosquito repellents in single packs or strategically located dispensers as part of a complete mosquito-control programme for your business.
Get help from mosquito-control experts
Effective mosquito control can be simple to highly complex in different situations. A professional assessment will enable the development of an effective integrated mosquito management (IMM) approach. This involves a professional survey to identify mosquito development sites and the best methods to protect structures and eliminate existing populations (both larvae and adults). The IMM approach also includes a continuous surveillance programme to monitor future activity.
A professional mosquito-control approach includes the following measures.
- A survey/inspectionof your entire property to identify:
- methods and techniques to reduce sources of stagnant water and larva development sites
- the best ways to protect structures
- the most effective ways to reduce adult mosquito resting sites
- A continuous surveillance programme to monitor mosquito breeding activity and adult populations
- The best techniques to proactively monitor future mosquito activity
- Educationto help you keep your business, staff, customers and reputation safe from the risks of mosquitoes