On National Mosquito Awareness Week, Mercer County Has Control in Hand
It’s that time of year again. Recent rains have not only been good for gardens, they have provided the perfect conditions for mosquitos to breed. This week is National Mosquito Awareness Week (June 21 through June 27) and Mercer County has been deep into its Mosquito Control Program since mid-March when Dr. Insuk Unlu, who supervises the program, began looking at the insects during their larval stage.
“Adult surveillance began the first week of May,” said Ms. Unlu. “Ninety percent of our operations involve larviciding to prevent adults from emerging, and when there is a need, we target adult mosquitoes with insecticides only as a last resort.”
The County has also started a program of countywide disease surveillance and a multi-year study of the Asian Tiger mosquito. “We conduct operational research to better fine-tune our control measure,” said Ms. Unlu, adding that research conducted by the program has found drain pipes to be a major habitat for the Asian Tiger. “We have modified our control measures to take these habitats into consideration.”
But even though the County runs a highly sophisticated Mosquito Control program, Mercer County Executive and Princeton resident Brian M. Hughes noted in a recent press release that mosquitoes remain a reality in the area throughout the warmer months. He urges residents to be vigilant about emptying vessels that contain water and can attract mosquitoes.
“Our nationally recognized Mosquito Control operation is on the cutting edge of mosquito management,” said Mr. Hughes. “To ameliorate the risks from mosquitos to local residents, our office practices what is known as Integrated Mosquito Management (or IMM) to suppress mosquito populations in Mercer County; both larval and adult surveillance programs are the backbone of our operations.”
In addition, said Mr. Hughes, the program responds to residents who call for help. “Traditionally, every spring our inspectors treat mosquito habitats such as flooded areas, woodland pools, and catch basins for mosquito larvae. They also respond to every service opportunity they receive and take measures to help residents with their mosquito problems,” he said.
Along with mosquitoes, Mr. Hughes urges residents to familiarize themselves with tick species that can put them at risk for severe illnesses such as West Nile virus, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Lyme disease.
Dr. Unlu advises the following measures all summer long to keep mosquito numbers low:
- Empty out water from containers in and around your backyard such as buckets, recycle bins, and potted plant saucers
- Store tires indoors or away from rain; check for tire recycling programs in your area
- Empty and replace water at least once for bird baths
- Do not forget water plus 7 days equals mosquitoes
- Make sure drain pipes slope downward. These drain pipes are dominated by Asian tiger mosquito immatures, and this species is an aggressive day biter
- Maintain your pool. Remove water from tarps and pool covers.
“Residents can use any repellent endorsed by the EPA and CDC,” said Ms. Unlu. “My personal favorite one is oil of lemon eucalyptus followed by DEET and picaridin.”
“Eliminating standing water is probably the most important thing to remember when preventing or controlling mosquito problems,” said Joe Conlon of the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA), which advocates the suppression of mosquitoes for the health of the public at large, and is headquartered in Mount Laurel. “Keep it in the back of your mind during all outdoor activities—even remember to irrigate lawns and gardens carefully to prevent water from standing for several days,” he said. AMCA has a handy trick for Mosquito Awareness Week: bear in mind the Three D’s of prevention: Drain, Dress and Defend.
Drain water containers at least once per week; Dress in long sleeves, long pants, and light-colored, loose-fitting clothing; and Defend the home by keeping windows, doors and porches tightly screened. Mr. Conlon also recommends the use of oil of lemon-eucalyptus.
For more information, contact Mercer County Mosquito Control (609) 530-7516.