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Whether municipal, commercial, or homeowner, knowing how to monitor and control mosquito populations will keep these pests from overpopulating later in the Spring and Summer. Rod Bain reports.

Audio file

PARTICIPANTS: Rod Bain and Jamie Kopco of Penn State University Extension.


When it comes to control of mosquito populations, whether it is a municipal entity or a private homeowner, Penn State University Extension's Jamie Kopko explains.

We simply do not have the technology to completely wipe out mosquitoes.

What they accomplish is a reduction, it's not an elimination of mosquitoes.

So what might mosquito control look like in light of warmer days ahead?

And in turn, the return of mosquito populations.

Kopko says municipalities take what he calls a systematic approach.

Typically, they'll have sort of set sampling points kind of all around the territory that they're in charge of taking care of, where they might have light traps up to collect adult mosquitoes.

They might be sampling water bodies to check for mosquito larvae.

In some cases, for monitoring for mosquito-borne diseases, they'll have what are called sentinel chickens, basically little chicken coops and they'll periodically do blood draws from the chickens and check for West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases.

And they do this just routine, continuous surveillance.

Many public and private pest control entities have working knowledge of areas.

For instance, how many mosquitoes in a trap within a set period of time triggers a spray treatment to reduce populations.

But even with all of that systematic monitoring, they're also very responsive.

If they get a bunch of calls from people in a neighborhood saying, "Hey, we're getting overwhelmed with mosquito bites.

You got to do something about this," then typically they will investigate the matter further and, if needed, go out and do a spray.

Mosquito control in one's yard can vary.

Some choose professional pest controllers.

Some may apply chemicals on their own or through a professional.

And some may use integrated pest management methods.

Although Kopko advises...

Integrated pest management does include chemical methods.

So using chemicals does not mean you're not using integrated pest management.

That also doesn't mean there isn't all-natural mosquito traps available, whether commercially or homemade.

Kopko provides one example.

Basically, you're just like a bucket of water and you throw some grass clippings or leaf litter in it and it creates this really appealing egg-laying site for them.

And it's got like a one-way door in it.

So the female mosquitoes can get in, hoping that they're going to lay eggs, and then they can never get back out.

So if that's the kind of mosquito you have, then you can use a completely non-chemical approach that the technology is a bucket with a fancy lid, and you can significantly reduce your mosquito pressure that way.

I'm Rod Bain reporting for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C.