CAI Greater Houston Chapter - FACETS Magazine, Summer 2019

10 | “Engage, Educate & Empower” I t’s safe to say that we know how everyone feels about mosquitoes. They cause physical discomfort, carry a variety of diseases and are just plain annoying with all the buzzing! Can you imagine what they have to say about us? We are probably just trying to mess up their good times. “Mosquitoes are fun! We stay out all night drinking, sleep a lot during the day and don’t have jobs. Humans have the nerve to build their homes where we live, they come into our communities and call us the pests! Pssh! Humans are the annoying uppity neighbors that try to shut the party down, but they can’t. We don’t cause any problems and just want to be left alone! We are going out tonight and having a drink. Go ahead, light your candles and tiki torches. Make my day. You can’t keep us from partying but nice try buddy. Good luck with that!” Mosquitoes are a Health Risk The truth is that the CDC confirmed 50 cases of humans who contracted the West Nile Virus in 2018 alone in the Greater Houston Metro Area. These areas included communities in the following counties: Wharton, Montgomery, Galveston, Fort Bend, and of course, Harris County. This example does not include any of the other diseases they are known to transmit such as Dengue Fever, Yellow Fever, Chikungunya, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Zika Virus and many more. This also does not include the hundreds of positive samples of West Nile Virus in the mosquito population found at monitoring stations across the city. We know they pose a health risk to everyone and we now have the tools at our disposal to control and reduce their numbers on a large scale, community by community. Environmental Control & Breeding Sites It is easy to think that the focus in community- based mosquito control should primarily be to reduce food, water and shelter. Food: The reason you are getting “bitten” is because the female needs the iron and other nutrients to lay her eggs. Yep, you are a prenatal vitamin. The male mosquitoes don’t bite and their diets don’t even consist of blood, they feed on plant nectar! So we can’t get rid of their food source. Water: Everyone knows that mosquitoes breed in standing water, right? Well…that is only partially true. Certain species lay their eggs on top of the soil when winter arrives where the eggs wait like seeds until spring showers wash them into puddles or pools. Or if it is too dry during the summer the eggs can lie dormant for months, hatching within hours or days of favorable weather conditions returning. That means that finding standing water is only part of the answer. When you realize that anything larger than a bottle cap holding water is a breeding site then we start talking about finding every decorative birdbath, tire leaning on a shed and every other nook and cranny that the little buggers can find. Also, eggs can be deposited around areas near bodies of water that remain damp and muddy or other surfaces near the water’s edge. So, the eggs are literally everywhere! Shelter: Remedy or get rid of shelter or harborage sites such as unmanicured lawns, untrimmed bushes, pier & beam homes with inadequate ventilation, clogged gutters, trees with hollows or storm drains with debris. The most basic home and community maintenance plays a huge role in mosquito reduction, unkept properties are ideal breeding grounds! Mosquito Control is a Multi-Phased Attack Mosquitoes are virtually unstoppable but don’t lose hope just yet! You might not be able to make them disappear forever, yet you can certainly reduce and control their numbers over time. It’s not about what you can’t do , it’s about what you can do! « Fossils identical to modern mosquitoes have been dated at 46 million years old. « Only female mosquitoes bite because they need the nutrients from the blood meal to produce eggs but can still produce eggs without it in many instances. « Both male and female mosquitoes diet normally consist of nectar and plant juices. « Scientists are studying mosquito saliva to develop anti-clotting drugs that could be used to treat cardiovascular disease. The Battle of the Bugs! By Darrell Mather, BUGCO Pest Control TIPS & TRICKS f a c t s

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