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Magic's Mosquito Management Service Plan


by Ralph H Maestre BCE

Mosquitoes have been all over the news this year. More humans worldwide die from these deadly vectors than from any other animal vector on earth. By some estimates over 750,000 humans die each year. The World Health Organization reports on their website the flowing: The number of malaria deaths globally fell from an estimated 839,000 in 2000 (range: 653,000 - 1.1 million), to 438,000 in 2015 (range: 236,000 - 635,000), a decline of 48%. This is from malaria alone. When you take West Nile Virus, St. Louis Encephalitis, Eastern and Western Equine Encephalitis, and now Zika these number escalate.

What exactly are mosquitoes and why are they so deadly?

They are insects. They are classified as a type of fly. The buzzing sound you hear them make is the sound of them breaking the sound barrier in flight. What make them so deadly are their mouthparts. Mosquitoes have specialized mouthparts that act like a syringe. The female mosquito requires blood for the protein. They use the protein for egg production.

Biology and life cycle

Mosquitoes have a lifecycle, which consists of a complete metamorphosis. They start as eggs, then larvae, pupae, and finally an adult. The eggs, depending on species, are deposited on water or vegetation in water, in tree holes, and at sites that hold a high potential for flooding. The Culex species or northern house mosquito deposits its eggs on end and side by side (called rafts) on the water surface. Some mosquito species can complete their life cycles in as little as 7 days but the northern house mosquito requires a minimum of 10-14 days - more often closer to a month. The mosquito larvae are known as wrigglers because they wriggle around in water as a method of locomotion. When undisturbed, the wrigglers lie just below the water surface and breathe through a tube located on their abdominal end. The adult mosquito is slender, small long-legged fly with narrow, hairy wings and extended mouthparts.

Interaction with humans

Adult female mosquito requires a blood meal in order to produce viable eggs. While feeding, the female inject saliva-containing anticoagulants that prevent the blood from clotting. Because mosquitoes take numerous blood meals, they can acquire disease organisms from an infected host and later transmit those organisms to previously uninfected hosts. This is why they are known as Vectors. Environmental conditions such as high rainfall and warm temperatures favor mosquito development, increase the level of infection in the reservoir host population, and thereby increase the chance of humans acquiring the disease.

Are there more than one species of mosquitoes that of concern?

Yes, in the New York metropolitan area of NYC, Manhattan, Long Island (Nassau County), Queens, Brooklyn and The Bronx, we have several species of concern. The following are some of types of mosquitoes and the diseases they spread.

Culex species: These are the most common species in the Urban Environment. They may be known as the "house" or "container" mosquito.

Vectors of

  • West Nile Virus- Associated with fever, headache, muscular pain, and rash. Serious complications can affect the liver or nervous system. Once a female mosquito contracts the virus from an infected bird, it will remain a vector of this disease until it dies. West Nile virus (WNV) is most commonly transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. Fortunately, most people infected with WNV will have no symptoms. About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms. Less than 1% of infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, neurologic illness.
  • St. Louis Encephalitis- Causes swelling of the brain and central nervous system tissue. Mosquitoes contract the disease from infected birds, rodents, deer, and in some cases, cats and dogs. Saint Louis encephalitis virus (SLEV) is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. Most cases of SLEV disease have occurred in eastern and central states. Most persons infected with SLEV have no apparent illness. Initial symptoms of those who become ill include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and tiredness. In rare cases, long-term disability or death can result.
  • Eastern and Western Equine Encephalitis- Viral disease spread by mosquitoes that have contracted the virus from infected birds; can result in swelling of the brain tissue. Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV) is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) is a rare illness in humans, and only a few cases are reported in the United States each year. Most cases occur in the Atlantic and Gulf Coast states. Most persons infected with EEV have no apparent illness. Severe cases of EEE (involving encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain) begin with the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, and vomiting. The illness may then progress into disorientation, seizures, or coma. EEE is one of the most severe mosquito-transmitted diseases in the United States with approximately 33% mortality and significant brain damage in most survivors. Western Equine Encephalitis is similar but it is found west of the Mississippi river.

    Aedes species: Aggressive biters that flourish in warm rural and suburban environments. Populations explode after seasonal rains. Aedes aegypti are primary vectors of disease.

    Vectors of

    • Heartworm- A parasite spread by female mosquitoes when they feed on infected dogs and cats. Humans can also contract heartworm, which settles in the lungs.
    • Yellow Fever and Dengue Fever- Viral disease that spread when mosquitoes contract the virus from an infected human and spread it to other humans through bites. Most cases occur in other countries, so people who travel abroad should consider precautionary measures depending upon their destination.
    • Zika- Zika virus disease (Zika) is a disease caused by the Zika virus, which is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. People usually don't get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected. However, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections. Because the symptoms of Zika are similar to those of many other diseases, many cases may not have been recognized. In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil. On February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Local transmission has been reported in many other countries and territories. Zika virus will likely continue to spread to new areas. Specific areas where Zika is spreading are often difficult to determine and are likely to change over time. If traveling, please visit the CDC Travelers' Health site for the most updated travel information.

    Anopheles species: Primary vector of malaria worldwide; also called permanent water mosquitoes. The Anopheles quadrimasculatus infests the southern, central, and eastern states, while Anopheles freeborni can be found in western states.

    Vectors of

    • Malaria: An illness with symptoms including fever, chills, sweats, muscle pain and vomiting; spreads when infected female Anopheles mosquitoes bite individuals who carry the malaria parasite. Although malaria has largely been eradicated in the United States, the disease can resurface due to international travel.

    What Should I do around my home to protect it and my family?

    The following are guidelines that will help reduce mosquitoes in and around the home in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, and New York City.

    Stagnant Water: Eliminate standing water around the property to reduce the numbers of potential mosquito breeding sites. Ideally, this should be a community goal because most mosquitoes can fly long distances.

    The types of modifications include:

    • Removing old tires, cans, buckets, pots, and similar items that can trap rainwater.
    • Position tarps and boat covers to allow rain runoff and limit "ponding."
    • Potted plants with water-capture bases should be drained or screening applied to the overflow vents.
    • Turn plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows upside-down when not in use.
    • Change birdbath water at least once a week.
    • Keep swimming pools chlorinated and stock ornamental ponds with surface-feeding minnows.
    • Rain gutters should be installed with sufficient slope to prevent the pooling of water; remove leaves and other obstructions from downspouts.

    Control Management for Mosquitoes on Long Island and New York City

    Outdoor activities: The Culex species or northern house mosquito is most active at dusk to dawn. New Yorkers with immune system deficiencies should try to limit outside activities to daylight hours. Likewise, parents of young children and infants should keep children inside during these same hours. Although some species of mosquitoes bite during daylight, they are not as prevalent in urban areas as the northern house mosquito.

    Exclusion: All doors and windows should fit tightly and remain closed during the peak mosquito activity periods between dusk and dawn. Screening should be no larger than 18 x 18 mesh. Replace screening that has holes or tears.

    Insecticides: Only licensed pest control companies operating under the direction of an appropriate government authority should perform area-wide treatment of adult mosquitoes using specialized equipment. This type of control is only temporarily effective when applied to relatively large areas. This method of mosquito management is not effective when applied by homeowners to small areas because mosquitoes can fly in from untreated locations.

    Homeowners can treat standing water (retention ponds, ornamental pools, etc.) by using a safe material called Bti (a bacterium named Bacillus thuringiensis var. israelensis). This material affects larval, aquatic fly species. It is available in pellet and doughnut-shaped briquettes, typically kills the wrigglers in less than 12 hours and has no measured effect on fish, birds or mammals.

    Repellents: Materials containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide are effective in repelling mosquitoes. These materials are usually applied to clothing or directly on the skin. Always follow label instructions.

    How does Magic Pest Management fit into the picture?

    For a detailed look at Magic's Mosquito Control Plan for New York City, Long Island, Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, visit our Mosquito Control Plan Service page.

    Steven B. Jacobs, Sr. Extension Associate, Penn State University Revised April 2006 CDC
    Bayer's Public Health Pest Solution Guide