07/03/03 - Mosquito control - timed spray systems

C. Roxanne Rutledge-Connelly, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Extension Medical Entomologist
200 9th Street S.E.
Vero Beach, FL 32962

772-778-7200 x. 158 (office)
772-778-7204 (fax)

The first responsibility in any pest control application is to know the specific pest one is trying to manage: identify it, know its feeding habits, where it rests, when it moves, when it mates, where the eggs are deposited, etc. Entomologists and insect control professionals know from experience that a lack of understanding of pest behavior often leads to ineffective control measures and unnecessary exposure of the environment and non-target organisms to a pesticide.

Seventy-seven species of mosquitoes have established populations in Florida; over 150 species are known to North America. Different mosquito species exhibit different behaviors. The various mosquito species have preferences for the type of host they will feed on and the time of day or night they are flying/biting/feeding. Since species differ in many traits, what is known about one species can not be assumed to pertain to another species. For example, it is well established that mosquito activity (flight/feeding) fluctuates depending on the humidity, the wind, the season, the temperature, host availability, the time of day, and the mosquito species. There are some Florida species of mosquitoes that exhibit a narrow window of feeding that lasts approximately 1 hour right before sunset; others may feed at any time of day when a host is near.

In order to reduce the number of biting mosquitoes of any given species, one must monitor several variables and respond with appropriate control measures that are specific for the intended pest species. This is the science (and the art) of mosquito surveillance. Surveillance should include:

Why is surveillance and precise identification of target species important?

Mosquito control misting systems, or any other system that simply releases insecticides on a timer, whether it is a barrier application or to kill flying mosquitoes, lack the human element that is critical for effective and proper mosquito control.

Effective, efficient, and environmentally proper mosquito control organizations conduct their operations of applying pesticide based on surveillance to ensure that the application will have maximum effect on mosquitoes with minimal effect on the environment. Timed release of pesticides into the environment, with no biological surveillance or human decision making to assess the need and impact, is NOT a part of a responsible mosquito control application. Therefore it is against good mosquito control practices to advocate automatic release of pesticides simply based on a timer.

For additional information, see

The UF/IFAS Pest Alert WWW site is at: http://entomology.ifas.ufl.edu/pestalert/