Mosquito Commission works to develop an effective control strategy

Tinton Falls, N.J. – This aggressive biting mosquito is making its presence more widely known in our area, and efforts are underway to try to control it.

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The Asian tiger mosquito Aedes albopictus.(Photo courtesy of CDC)

The Monmouth County Mosquito Extermination Commission, in collaboration with Mercer County Mosquito Control, Rutgers University’s Center for Vector Biology, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), are working to develop an area-wide management strategy to reduce the presence of the Asian tiger mosquito. The Asian tiger mosquito is not only a serious nuisance but poses significant public health risks. This campaign is part of a larger grant, established in 2008 by the USDA, to develop a national action plan to control the Asian tiger mosquito.

One goal has been to raise awareness of the mosquito through childhood and adult education. The Asian tiger mosquito lays its eggs in backyard containers making it very difficult to control. “When people are being bitten by Asian tiger mosquitoes, it usually means that the source of the mosquito is nearby,” commented Superintendent Douglas Guthrie. “To put into perspective how prolific this mosquito is, one discarded bottle in the backyard can produce over 20,000 mosquitoes over the course of a summer. It is extremely important that people check their yard weekly for anything that can hold water.”

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A single birdbath can produce over 400,000mosquitoes! Empty and replace water at least once a week.

To reach school-aged children, a computer-based, interactive curriculum on CD was developed in 2011. The CD, which contains five lesson plans and three interactive games was mailed to every elementary school in Monmouth County. Discs were also distributed for free to the public through libraries and county fairs. Additional discs can be ordered by contacting the Mosquito Commission.

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Depending on the toy, they can produceanywhere from 70,000 to 1 million mosquitoes in a summer! Store all toys inside, or in a way that does not collect water.

In addition to virtual curricula, an educational iPhone application has been developed, which can be downloaded for free through the iTunes website. The iPhone app provides information not only on Asian tiger mosquitoes, but also on how to protect yourself from mosquito bites and eliminate mosquitoes in your backyard. It also includes a repellent selection guide that can help you select the appropriate repellent.

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A single planter bottom can produce over250,000 mosquitoes! Change or remove water in saucers weekly.

Since visual learning is also an important tool in education, a public service announcement (PSA) was developed as part of the project. The public service announcement demonstrates the most common mosquito habitats and how to eliminate them in your backyard. The PSA has been distributed throughout several media channels, and can also be seen on YouTube.

The iPhone application can be downloaded for free at: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mosquitoes/id450777349?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

The PSA can be seen at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJcxc8bwpkY&feature=related

The Monmouth County Mosquito Commission has also been evaluating new approaches to mosquito control to handle the Asian tiger mosquito which thrives in very little water and is active all day long. Field trials suggest that adult mosquito control provides only temporary relief from this mosquito. Therefore, the Commission is evaluating innovative ways to deliver control products to elusive and often inaccessible container habitats. “One intensive approach relies on placing a product in a container of water that attracts a female mosquito as a place to lay her eggs,” explained entomologist Sean Healy. “In theory, the mosquito will pick up the product and carry it to the next container of water, killing larvae that hatch in the second container.” The Commission is also conducting field trials using Ultra Low Volume (ULV) application equipment often used for adult mosquito control to dispense a mist of larvicide to reach container habitats.

The overall goal of the Asian tiger mosquito project is to provide practical, adaptable guidelines that mosquito control programs throughout the country can use to combat this pest. While preliminary results are somewhat encouraging, there is no doubt that the cooperation of all Monmouth County residents and visitors to eliminate containers holding water is critical in any effort to control this mosquito.

The Monmouth County Mosquito Extermination Commission can be reached by calling (732) 542-3630. Visit online at www.visitmonmouth.com/mosquito for more information or to arrange an inspection.