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  • FAQs

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    Q: Do you have a set schedule for spraying mosquitoes?

    Spraying for adult mosquito outbreaks occurs only on an as needed basis and only if mosquito populations meet State guidelines for treatment. Lee County Mosquito Control District conducts several on-going types of surveillance to quantify mosquito populations.

    Q: How many phone calls do you need to spray my area?

    The number of phone calls for service does not determine when or where treatment for adult mosquitoes will be done. Spraying for adult mosquito outbreaks occur only on an as needed basis and only if mosquito populations meet State guidelines for treatment. Lee County Mosquito Control District conducts several on-going types of surveillance to quantify mosquito populations. Generally, staff will know where mosquito populations have increased, but occasionally, phone calls are important because they alert the District of potential problem areas that surveillance has not predicted. It could also indicate an individual is experiencing a problem confined to their property or neighborhood. In such situations, an inspector will be dispatched to check for mosquitoes.

    Q: How long do mosquitoes live?

    Mosquitoes are relatively fragile insects with an adult life span that typically lasts 3-6 weeks. The vast majority meets a violent end by serving as food for birds, dragonflies, and spiders; or is killed by the effects of wind, rain, or drought. Some mosquito species may persist in for as long as 5 months if environmental conditions are favorable. Content source: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/document_in652

    Q: Do you spray for no-see-ums?

    Lee County Mosquito Control was created to prevent health and nuisance problems caused by mosquitoes. Treatments to control adult mosquitoes may help alleviate adult no-see-um populations, but treatments can only be made if surveillance indicates the need to treat for mosquitoes not based on midge populations. For more information on no-see-ums, which are Culicoides or also known as biting midges, go to: http://creatures.ifas.ufl.edu/aquatic/biting_midges.htm

    Q: Do you spray for midges?

    Lee County Mosquito Control was created to prevent health and nuisance problems caused by mosquitoes. Treatments to control adult mosquitoes may help alleviate Chironomidae (also known as non-biting midges)populations, but treatments can only be made if surveillance indicates the need to treat for mosquitoes not based on midge populations. For more information on non-biting midges to to: http://mrec.ifas.ufl.edu/Ali/AALI_019.pdf.

    Q: Do you spray for bees?

    Lee County Mosquito Control was created to prevent health and nuisance problems caused by mosquitoes. The pesticides used are labeled for treatment of mosquitoes and not for control of bees. If you would like a hive removed, the District recommends you call Keith Council, President of the Beekeeper Association of Southwest Florida (BASF) at 239-839-4479. You can get further information on bees at http://swfbees.com/. If you want the hive exterminated, please contact a licensed pest control company.

    Q: Can mosquito control spray for a special event?

    It is against State regulations to spray for mosquitoes without scientific data to show treatment for adult mosquitoes is justified. If Lee County Mosquito Control District is notified of the location, date, and time the event is to be held, at least 3 working days in advance of the event, various methods of surveillance can be done in that area to determine if treatment can be justified. Please call 239-694-2174 to request treatment for a special event.

    Q: Are mosquitoes attracted to some people more than others?

    Yes. Mosquito attraction to humans is a very complex matter. Primarily mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted from the breath and pores of humans. Mosquitoes are attracted to lactic acid, a by-product of human metabolism found in sweat. Mosquitoes are also attracted to fragrances, body heat, moisture, dark colors, and movement. During mosquito season it is recommended that people who wish to be less attractive to mosquitoes wear unscented products and light colored clothing. Odors produced by skin microflora also play a part in inducing the mosquito to land. Over 350 compounds have been isolated from odors produced by human skin. Either singly or in combination, many of these compounds may be attractants – and many may be repellents. Visual stimuli, such as movement, also factor into host-seeking behavior by mosquitoes. Mosquito attraction  is complicated and will require many years of testing before it can be completely sorted out.

    What can be safely stated, though, is that ingestion of garlic, vitamin B12 and other systemics has been proven in controlled laboratory studies to have no impact on mosquito biting. Conversely, eating bananas did not attract mosquitoes as the myth suggests, but wearing perfumes does. People drinking beer have been shown to be more attractive to mosquitoes. Limburger cheese has also been found to be attractive. Scientists have theorized that this may explain the attractancy some mosquitoes find for human feet. Content Source: the American Mosquito Control Association at http://www.mosquito.org/mosquito-information/faq.aspx#13.

    Another way to become less attractive to mosquitoes is to wear a commercially available, proven mosquito repellent. The District follows the Center for Disease Control recommendations on repellent.

    CDC evaluation of information contained in peer-reviewed scientific literature and data available from EPA has identified several EPA registered products that provide repellent activity sufficient to help people avoid the bites of mosquitoes. Products containing these active ingredients typically provide reasonably long-lasting protection:

    • DEET (Chemical Name: N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide or N,N-diethly-3-methyl-benzamide)
    • Picaridin (KBR 3023, Chemical Name: 2-(2-hydroxyethyl)-1-piperidinecarboxylic acid 1-methylpropyl ester )
    • Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus* or PMD (Chemical Name: para-Menthane-3,8-diol) the synthesized version of oil of lemon eucalyptus
    • IR3535 (Chemical Name: 3-[N-Butyl-N-acetyl]-aminopropionic acid, ethyl ester)

    EPA characterizes the active ingredients DEET and Picaridin as “conventional repellents” and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, PMD, and IR3535 as “biopesticide repellents”, which are derived from natural materials. For more information on repellent active ingredients see (http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/health/mosquitoes/ai_insectrp.htm). For more information on how to use repellents visit www.cdc.gov/westnile

    Q: Why do mosquitoes bite some people more than others?

    You come in from a summer hike covered with itchy red mosquito bites, only to have your friends innocently proclaim that they don’t have any. Or you wake up from a night of camping to find your ankles and wrists aflame with bites, while your tentmates are unscathed.

    You’re not alone. An estimated 20 percent of people, it turns out, are especially delicious for mosquitoes, and get bit more often on a consistent basis. And while scientists don’t yet have a cure for the ailment, other than preventing bites with insect repellent (which, we’ve recently discovered, some mosquitoes can become immune to over time), they do have a number of ideas regarding why some of us are more prone to bites than others. Here are some of the factors that could play a role:

    Blood Type

    Not surprisingly­ since, after all, mosquitoes bite us to harvest proteins from our blood ­research shows that they find certain blood types more appetizing than others. One study found that in a controlled setting, mosquitoes landed on people with Type O blood nearly twice as often as those with Type A. People with Type B blood fell somewhere in the middle of this itchy spectrum. Additionally, based on other genes, about 85 percent of people secrete a chemical signal through their skin that indicates which blood type they have, while 15 percent do not, and mosquitoes are also more attracted to secretors than nonsecretors regardless of which type they are.

    Carbon Dioxide

    One of the key ways mosquitoes locate their targets is by smelling the carbon dioxide emitted in their breath­ they use an organ called a maxillary palp to do this, and can detect carbon dioxide from as far as 164 feet away. As a result, people who simply exhale more of the gas over time­ generally, larger people ­have been shown to attract more mosquitoes than others. This is one of the reasons why children get bit less often than adults, on the whole.

    Exercise and Metabolism

    In addition to carbon dioxide, mosquitoes find victims at closer range by smelling the lactic acid, uric acid, ammonia and other substances expelled via their sweat, and are also attracted to people with higher body temperatures. Because strenuous exercise increases the buildup of lactic acid and heat in your body, it likely makes you stand out to the insects. Meanwhile, genetic factors influence the amount of uric acid and other substances naturally emitted by each person, making some people more easily found by mosquitos than others.

    Skin Bacteria

    Other research has suggested that the particular types and volume of bacteria that naturally live on human skin affect our attractiveness to mosquitoes. In a 2011 study, scientists found that having large amounts of a few types of bacteria made skin more appealing to mosquitoes. Surprisingly, though, having lots of bacteria but spread among a greater diversity of different species of bacteria seemed to make skin less attractive. This also might be why mosquitoes are especially prone to biting our ankles and feet­they naturally have more robust bacteria colonies.


    Just a single 12-ounce bottle of beer can make you more attractive to the insects, one study found. But even though researchers had suspected this was because drinking increases the amount of ethanol excreted in sweat, or because it increases body temperature, neither of these factors were found to correlate with mosquito landings, making their affinity for drinkers something of a mystery.


    In several different studies, pregnant women have been found to attract roughly twice as many mosquito bites as others, likely a result of the fact the unfortunate confluence of two factors: They exhale about 21 percent more carbon dioxide and are on average about 1.26 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than others.

    Clothing Color

    This one might seem absurd, but mosquitoes use vision (along with scent) to locate humans, so wearing colors that stand out (black, dark blue or red) may make you easier to find, at least according to Jonathan Day, a medical entomologist at the University of Florida, in commentary he gave to NBC.


    As a whole, underlying genetic factors are estimated to account for 85 percent of the variability between people in their attractiveness to mosquitoes ­regardless of whether it’s expressed through blood type, metabolism, or other factors. Unfortunately, we don’t (yet) have a way of modifying these genes, but…

    Natural Repellants

    Some researchers have started looking at the reasons why a minority of people seem to rarely attract mosquitoes in the hopes of creating the next generation of insect repellants. Using chromatography to isolate the particular chemicals these people emit, scientists at the UK’s Rothamsted Research lab have found that these natural repellers tend to excrete a handful of substances that mosquitoes don’t seem to find appealing. Eventually, incorporating these molecules into advanced bug spray could make it possible for even a Type O, exercising, pregnant woman in a black shirt to ward off mosquitoes for good.

    Q: Why do mosquitoes bite?

    Only female mosquitoes bite. They seek blood for egg production. It serves no nourishment function. Males do not produce eggs; therefore, they do not seek blood. In order to obtain energy, both male and female mosquitoes feed upon plant nectars – much in the same manner as honeybees. Content Source: Common Questions Asked About Mosquito Control, Florida Mosquito Control Association and the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory.

    Q: Why do mosquitoes leave welts on the skin when they bite?

    When the female mosquito pierces the skin for her “blood meal”, she injects a small amount of saliva into a capillary. The saliva makes penetration of her proboscis or mouthparts easier and prevents the blood from clotting. Welts or red itchy bumps that may appear after the bite of the mosquito are actually an allergic reaction to the saliva. Some people are more allergic to mosquito saliva than others and tend to react stronger. Some people may be more allergic to specific species of mosquitoes than other species, which is why you may react stronger to mosquitoes in one area than another. The swelling and itching may last from a few hours to a few days. Occasionally individuals may be highly sensitive to mosquito saliva and swell significantly, even to the point where they need medical attention. In any case, people should avoid scratching these welts as bacteria from the fingernails may be introduced into the wound and cause infection. Content Source: Rutgers University Entomology Department and http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/document_in652.

    Q: Do mosquitoes carry AIDS?

    According the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the answer is no. There is no evidence to support that likelihood exists. If HIV infected blood is taken by a mosquito the virus is digested or killed inside the body of the mosquito. Many studies have been conducted on this issue in the United States and abroad. There has not been a successful transfer of the virus from an infected source to another host by blood feeding insects under experimental conditions. The experts have concluded that the insects are not capable of such transmission. Many biological reasons would lead one to this same conclusion, but the extensive experimental studies are the most powerful evidence for the conclusion.

    Two key factors emerged from the research. First, HIV does not replicate in mosquitoes; thus, mosquitoes cannot be a biological vector as they are for malaria, yellow fever, or dengue. In fact, mosquitoes digest the virus that causes AIDS. Second, there is little possibility of mechanical transmission (i.e., flying contaminated syringes); even though we know that HIV can be transmitted by dirty needles. The amount of “blood” on a mosquito’s mouth part is tiny compared to what is found on a “dirty” needle, making the risk from mosquito bites proportionally smaller than needle transmission. Calculations based on the mechanical transmission of anthrax and Rift Valley fever virus, both of which produce very high titers in blood unlike HIV, showed that it would take about 10,000,000 mosquitoes that first fed on a person with AIDS and then continued feeding on a susceptible person to get 1 transmission.

    Content source: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/qa/print/qa32.htm, and http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/ and http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~insects/aids.htm.

    Q: Are aerial mosquito control treatments harmful to people or pets?

    After the USEPA determine an insecticide can be registered for use in the United States, the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (FDACS) determine which pesticides can be registered and applied in the State of Florida. The primary aerial adulticide material used by Lee County Mosquito Control District is Naled. FDACS states “Naled, sold under the name Dibrom … when applied in accordance with the label, can be used to kill mosquitoes without posing unreasonable risks to human health or the environment. On their website: http://www.flaes.org/pdf/Naled%20Response010803.pdf, FDACS further noted, “The USEPA recently conducted preliminary risk assessments for Naled. These assessments calculated risks under a number of different scenarios, including assumptions of several Naled spraying events over a period of weeks and toddlers ingesting some Naled in soil and grass along with exposure through skin and inhalation exposure. Because of the very small amount of active ingredient released per acre of ground, the USEPA found that for all scenarios considered, exposures were hundreds or even thousands of times below an amount that might pose a health concern. FDACS further stated, “When applied for mosquito control in accordance with the label, Naled is not harmful to animals. However, if you want to reduce your pets’ chance for exposure, keep them inside during spraying.

    Q: Can Listerine ward off mosquitoes?

    The primary ingredient in Listerine is eucalyptol, a natural oil that is also an active ingredient in botanical repellents. Several studies, including one from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, have found that eucalyptus based repellents can be extremely effective and non toxic to humans. However, the eucalyptus-based repellents contained 75% concentration of the compound and the concentration found in Listerine and other mouthwash is usually below 1%. Listerine is actually .092% eucalyptol. Mouthwashes are usually water and alcohol based which causes them to evaporate quickly. Commercial repellents such as DEET, Picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus are formulated to last for hours. While Listerine may ward off mosquitoes momentarily, it will not work as a barrier treatment to prevent mosquitoes around the house and it will not provide protection applied on your skin for very long. Content source: http://www.snopes.com/oldwives/dishsoap.asp

    Q: What is dog heartworm and do only dogs get it?

    Dog heartworm is a very common disease of canines and to a lesser extent cats caused by a parasitic worm (Dirofilaria immitis) that can be debilitating, even fatal. Dog heartworm is transmitted to dogs by the bite of an infected mosquito. Adults live in the dog’s heart and release microscopic young worms into the dog’s blood. This infection is often fatal to the dog. Cats are also susceptible to infection by dog heartworm, although to a much lesser degree than are dogs. Human infections are sometimes discovered, usually during lung X-rays. Pet owners should talk to their veterinarians about protective medication to avoid dog heartworm. For more information and content source: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/MG100 and www.heartwormsociety.org.

    Q: How long will my repellent last?

    According to the Center for Disease Control,

    • A product containing 23.8% DEET provides an average of 5 hours of protection from mosquito bites.
    • A product containing 20% DEET provides almost 4 hours of protection from mosquito bites.
    • A product with 6.65% DEET provides almost 2 hours of protection from mosquito bites.
    • A product with 4.75% DEET provides roughly 1 and a half hour of protection from mosquito bites.

    These examples represent results from only one study and are only included to provide a general idea of how such products may work. Actual protection will vary widely based on conditions such as temperature, perspiration, and water exposure.

    Choose a repellent that provides protection for the amount of time that you will be outdoors. A product with a higher percentage of active ingredient is a good choice if you will be outdoors for several hours while a product with a lower concentration can be used if time outdoors will be limited. Simply re-apply repellent, following label instructions, if you are outdoors for a longer time than expected or start to be bitten by mosquitoes. Content source from http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/qa/insect_repellent.htm and http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/IN419

    For more information on the comparison of repellent efficacy on biting mosquitoes by the New England Journal of Medicine go to http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/347/1/13.

    Q: Why is Southwest Florida so prone to salt marsh mosquitoes?

    The subtropical climate allows for year-round production of salt marsh mosquitoes and the extensive coastline and flat topography creates a disproportionate area of salt marsh. Florida’s low latitude location creates the perfect tide regime for the creation of high marsh. Lee County has over 56,000 acres of salt marsh that breeds mosquitoes. Lee County also has some of the most productive salt marsh for mosquito development. Dr. Provost reported in article titled Man, Mosquitoes and Birds in the Florida Naturalist, April 1969 page 64 that, “To catch over a third of a million mosquitoes in someone’s backyard in one night becomes more understandable when we measured egg densities in Sanibel Slough as high as 45,000 [eggs] per square foot, which projected, would be two billion an acre.” Currently, there are still 56,000 acres of salt marsh mosquito habitat in Lee County.

    Q: Who oversees pesticide applications?

    Florida mosquito control programs are established and operated according to the procedures given in the Mosquito Control Law, Chapter 388 Florida Statute (F.S.) and the Mosquito Control Rules, Chapter 5E-13, Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.). The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act of 1972 (FIFRA) requires that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) be certain that all personnel handling hazardous or restricted use chemicals be trained to do so correctly and safely and that they be certified as pesticide applicators.

    The state agency administering the certification is appointed by the governor of each state. In Florida, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) is the lead agency. They require that every employee applying pesticides for public control of mosquitoes be certified or be supervised by a certified applicator.

    Q: Why can’t I see the spray coming out of the truck or plane like before?

    The spray you used to see during adult mosquito treatments was produced by diluting a pesticide with diesel or fog oil in a technique called thermal fogging. The mixture was heated producing a cloud of smoke. The oil acted as a carrier to help disperse the pesticide in the proper concentrations and helped pilots see where they had treated. Newer methods of spraying called ultra low volume or ULV have almost eliminated the need for the thermal applications and therefore no fog is seen during spray treatments. Pilots now rely on global positioning system (GPS)  to determine treatment paths. This newer method still provides effective control of mosquitoes, eliminates the adverse health and environmental effects of the oil, and is much more efficient. One DC-3 can now provide the same area of treatment for adult mosquitoes in one night that it would have taken 6 DC-3s using the thermal fog applications.

    Q: What methods are used to control mosquitoes?

    There are four basic approaches to controlling mosquitoes: prevention, source reduction, larviciding and adulticiding. Preventing mosquitoes from breeding is the most desirable solution. Unfortunately, many human modifications of the environment such as ditches, retention ponds, and water management structures create mosquito breeding sites. Prevention requires working with planners to plan, construct, and maintain infrastructure without producing mosquito breeding habitats.

    Source reduction is the elimination of water in which mosquitoes lay their eggs and in which the larvae develop or by containing water to eliminate areas for mosquitoes to lay their eggs. Source reduction is the second most effective method for controlling mosquitoes. Methods of source reduction involve eliminating containers that hold water and filling wet areas with soil. Some east coast salt marsh areas and in Lee County parts of J. N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge are impounded, keeping water on the marsh during mosquito season eliminating areas for mosquitoes to lay their eggs.

    Larviciding is the use of materials to control immature stages of mosquitoes or prevent development of larvae from becoming adult mosquitoes. Larvicides are applied to waters that contain larvae and or pupae. Larvicides are effective in low concentrations and generally do not impact other organisms in the water or habitat. Every acre that is larvicided to prevent adult mosquitoes from emerging reduces the number of acres that must be treated with spray trucks or aircraft. Lee County Mosquito Control has built a program focusing on larviciding to control mosquitoes.

    Adulticiding is the last effort to control mosquitoes. Applied as directed, adulticide treatments have minimal effects on other insects. Lee County Mosquito Control is diligent in ensuring the proper size droplets and application rates are used. Adulticiding is done at night when adult mosquitoes are most active, which is also when most non-target insects like bees, dragonflies and butterflies are not as active.

    Q: Is that tons of mosquitoes clinging to house?

    Probably not. Male mosquitoes swarm during mating and some will rest on the side of a house together. Both male and female mosquitoes will seek shade during hot weather and, if a house offers a cool, shady resting spot, then mosquitoes may cling to the walls. However, usually large swarms of insects clinging to a house or side of buildings are non-biting midges. These look very much like mosquitoes, but do not bite. They are often called “blind” mosquitoes. If midges are clinging to your house it is a good idea to wash them down with a hose to prevent them from staining your wall. For more information on non-biting midges go to:http://mrec.ifas.ufl.edu/Ali/AALI_019.pdf.

    Q: What beneficial purpose do mosquitoes serve?

    All species of plants and animals have their place in nature. Mosquitoes are no exception. Although no species depend solely on mosquitoes as a food source, indiscriminate predators will eat mosquito larvae and or adults if other food sources are not readily available; therefore, mosquitoes are part of a link in the food chain. During their aquatic stage, mosquito larvae provide food for other aquatic insects such as dragonfly nymphs, beetles, fish, and other water-dwelling creatures. Mosquito control treats larvae that are in areas not generally controlled by natural predators. Many salt marsh mosquitoes hatch in the high marsh where fish cannot get to them. By treating the areas that are not being controlled by natural predators, mosquitoes remain part of the overall food chain. As adults both male and female mosquitoes need liquid nourishment for food. Mosquitoes may serve as an incidental pollinator as they collect nectar for nourishment.

    Q: What is larviciding?

    Larviciding is controlling mosquitoes in their larval stage. Control of larval mosquitoes is the backbone of Lee County Mosquito Control District’s program. Larvicides are products used to reduce immature mosquito populations. They can be either biological or chemical products. Larvicides are applied directly to water sources that hold mosquito eggs and larvae. When used well, larvicides can help to reduce the overall mosquito population by limiting the number of new mosquitoes that are produced.

    Q: What is adulticiding?

    Adulticiding is controlling mosquitoes in their adult stage. Adulticides are products that rapidly reduce adult mosquito populations. This can become necessary when larval control measures are insufficient or not feasible. Adulticiding may be initiated when there is evidence of significant populations of mosquitoes in a region or if there is evidence of mosquito borne disease in Lee County . The most common method of adulticiding is ultra-low volume (ULV) spraying. ULV spraying is the process of putting very small amounts of liquid into the air as a fine mist of droplets. These droplets float on the air currents and quickly eliminate mosquitoes that come into contact with them. ULV adulticides are applied when mosquitoes are most active-typically early evening or pre-dawn. Adulticides can be applied from hand-held sprayers, truck-mounted sprayers, helicopters or airplanes.

    Q: Will LCMCD use genetically modified mosquitoes?

    Will Lee County Mosquito Control District be Utilizing Genetically Modified Mosquitoes?

    While genetically modified mosquitoes (GMM) may be appropriate for some situations, it is not a likely option for Lee County at this time. There are factors which would make this control tool unsatisfactory for Lee County. To understand why genetically modified mosquitoes would work in some situations, but not in others requires some basic understanding on the method and what species of mosquito is being targeted for control.

    Utilizing sterile insects as a control technique is not new technology. To use sterile insects for control purposes:  the insects must be able to be mass produced in a laboratory, insects are then sterilized or altered to have a lethal gene not harmful to the carrier insect, the insects must be able to compete with the wild population for mating, the number of sterile insects released must be sufficient to overwhelm the native insect population, and there must be a barrier or buffer that minimizes the movement of insects from outside the sterilization zone.

    A successful example of utilizing sterile insects to control a harmful insect is the screwworm fly eradication in the south east United States by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA began the program in Florida in 1958. A laboratory/factory in Sebring began rearing 75 million sterile screwworm flies per week. They released 75 to 300 sterile screwworm flies per square kilometer by airplanes. The flies were pushed out of the United States and a buffer area in Central America was created where sterile screwworm flies are continually released to prevent re-entry into the United States. The program has been successful and the last infestation in Florida was in 1959 and the last reported case in the United States was in 1982.

    Researchers have been seeking to find a way to use sterile insect techniques in the control of mosquitoes. The company Oxitech has been a leader in this research. One of the benefits of using a sterile insect technique is that it focuses on the specific species to be controlled. Oxitech is working with the mosquito species Aedes aegypti, which is the vector of Yellow Fever, Dengue, Chikungunya, and   Japanese encephalitis. For more information on Aedes aegypti go to: http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/aquatic/aedes_aegypti.htm.

    Oxitech uses Aedes aegypti  mosquitoes that have been genetically modified to require tetracycline in their diet in order to survive. The genetically modified male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes would be released to mate with native, female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. The mosquitoes would produce nonviable larvae that would die due to the lack of tetracycline in their diet. Oxitech has successfully utilized genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in the Cayman Islands, Brazil, and Malaysia and is currently working with the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District and seeking permission to test this technique in Key West.

    Lee County Mosquito Control District would not select this method of control at this time for several reasons. The primary concern would be while sterile males are released, adulticide treatments for other species of mosquitoes would require extra coordination to prevent killing released GMM.  This could be problematic if a salt marsh brood of mosquitoes hatched or if one of the other species of mosquitoes that can vector other mosquito borne diseases needed treatment.

    A second concern for use of GMM in Lee County would be migration and reintroduction of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes from outside areas surrounding Lee County. A third concern would be that another mosquito species, Aedes albopictus, that shares the same habitat as Aedes aegypti would populate areas vacated by the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Aedes albopictus is a competent mosquito vector for mosquito borne disease and is currently not present in the Florida Keys. A fourth concern is Lee County is geographically large compared to the other areas selected for use of GMM. Lee County would require significantly more GMM to be released in order to be successful.

    Although Lee County Mosquito Control District views GMM as a viable control tool, Lee County Mosquito Control District is not considering the use of GMM at this time for the above mentioned reasons.


    Q: Do bats serve as an effective mosquito control?

    Do bats serve as an effective mosquito control?
    Recently the public has shown increased interest in the value of insectivorous species of bats in controlling mosquitoes. Although untested lately, this is not a new idea. During the 1920’s several bat towers were constructed near San Antonio, Texas, in order to help control malarial mosquitoes. Mosquito populations were not affected and the project was discontinued. Bats in temperate areas of the world are almost exclusively insectivorous. Food items identified in their diet are primarily beetles, wasps, and moths. Mosquitoes have comprised less than 1% of gut contents of wild caught bats in all studies to date. Bats tend to be opportunistic feeders. They do not appear to specialize on particular types of insects, but will feed on whatever food source presents itself. Large, concentrated populations of mosquitoes could provide adequate nutrition in the absence of alternative food. However, a moth provides much more nutritional value per capture than a mosquito. M.D. Tuttle, a world authority on bats, is often quoted for his anecdotal report that bats effectively controlled mosquito populations at a popular resort in New York State. While there is no doubt that bats have probably played a visible, if not prominent, role in reducing the mosquito problems in many areas, the natural abatement of mosquito populations is an extremely complex process to study, comprising poorly known ecological relationships. Tuttle attempts to underscore the bats role by citing an experiment in which bats released into a laboratory room filled with mosquitoes caught up to 10 mosquitoes per minute. He extrapolated this value to 600 mosquitoes per hour. Thus, a colony of 500 bats could consume over a quarter of a million mosquitoes per hour. Impressive numbers indeed, but singularly unrealistic when based upon a study where bats were confined in a room with mosquitoes as their only food source. There is no question that bats eat mosquitoes, but to utilize them as the sole measure of control would be folly indeed, particularly considering the capacity of both mosquitoes and bats to transmit diseases. Source: AMCA

    Q: Do Purple Martins help reduce mosquitoes?

    Do Purple Martins help reduce mosquitoes?
    It has been known for many years that bird species like purple martins consume large numbers of flying insects. Proponents of their use in mosquito control are quick to cite J. L. Wade, an amateur ornithologist, who reasoned that an average 4 oz. adult purple martin, due to its rapid metabolism, would have to consume its body weight (14,000 mosquitoes) per day in order to survive. Wade recognized that the purple martins diet includes many other types of insects, but this appears to have been lost on many individuals searching for a natural means of control. In fact, during daylight, purple martins often feed voraciously upon dragonflies, known predators of mosquitoes. At night, when mosquitoes are most active, purple martins tend to feed at treetop level, well above most mosquito flight paths. Ornithologist James Hill, founder of the Purple Martin Conservation Association (PMCA), writes, “The number of mosquitoes that martins eat is extremely insignificant, and they certainly don’t control them. In-depth studies have shown that mosquitoes comprise no more than 0 to 3 percent of the diet of martins”. They eat only flying insects, which they catch in flight. Their diet is diverse, including dragonflies, damselflies, flies, midges, mayflies, stinkbugs, leafhoppers, Japanese beetles, June bugs, butterflies, moths, grasshoppers, cicadas, bees, wasps, flying ants, and ballooning spiders. Martins are not, however, prodigious consumers of mosquitoes as is so often claimed by companies that manufacture martin housing. An intensive 3-year diet study conducted at PMCA headquarters in Edinboro, PA, failed to find a single mosquito among the 350 diet samples collected from parent martins bringing beakfuls of insects to their young. The samples were collected from martins during all hours of the day, all season long, and in numerous habitats, including mosquito-infested ones. Purple Martins and freshwater mosquitoes rarely ever cross paths. Martins are daytime feeders, and feed high in the sky; mosquitoes, on the other hand, stay low in damp places during daylight hours, or only come out at night. Since Purple Martins feed only on flying insects, they are extremely vulnerable to starvation during extended periods of cool and/or rainy weather. Rather than erecting martin houses to specifically attract insect-eating birds for mosquito control, we should at least promote them for their aesthetic and educational value. AMCA

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