The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Environmental Protection Agency. UU. (EPA) collaborate in mosquito control activities in the United States for disease control. By observing the biological information on the life and reproduction of the mosquito and the epidemiological information on the disease, the two organizations developed a methodology on the best way to control the mosquito.
The CDC and the EPA help Puerto Rico to apply this methodology to successfully develop a sustainable program and approach to control the mosquito that transmits Zika, dengue, chikungunya and other diseases. Successful mosquito management requires intervention at some time during the mosquito’s life cycle before it bites and infects a human being.
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An integrated and successful mosquito control strategy includes several tactics to eliminate the mosquito and its habitat. Four fundamental tactics are:
- Remove mosquito habitats
- Use structural barriers
- Control the mosquito in the larval stage
- Control the adult mosquito
1. Eliminate mosquito habitats
An important part of mosquito control around homes is making sure that the mosquito does not have a place to lay eggs. Because mosquitoes need water for two stages of their life cycle, it is important to check that there are no water sources.
- Eliminate standing water in rain gutters, old tires, buckets, plastic lids, toys or any other container where the mosquito can reproduce.
- The CDC is providing a large number of funds for the purchase of tire crushers for Puerto Rico. This is important since used or discarded tires can accumulate water that attracts the mosquito and causes an increase in its reproduction.
- Empty and change water from birdbaths, fountains, children’s pools, rainwater barrels, and potted plant trays at least once a week to eliminate possible mosquito habitats.
- Drain temporary or dirt-filled water pools.
- Keep the water in the treated and circulating pools.
2. Use structural barriers
Since Aedes mosquito bites frequently occur indoors, using structural barriers is an important way to reduce the incidence of bites. Here are some examples of structural barriers:
- Place meshes (windows) on windows and doors, if you have not already installed them.
- Cover all gaps in walls, doors, and windows to prevent mosquitoes from entering.
- Make sure that the meshes of the windows and doors prevent the entry of insects.
- Cover the baby carriers and beds with mosquito nets. Mosquito nets can be especially important to prevent a sick person from suffering from mosquito bites, which can spread the disease to other people.
3. Control the mosquito in the larval stage
The greatest impact on mosquito populations will occur when they are concentrated, immobile and accessible. This emphasis focuses on habitat management and control of immature stages (egg, larva, and pupa) before the mosquito emerges in its adult form. This approach maximizes the effectiveness of pesticide application and minimizes use from the widespread application of pesticides. Larvicides attack the larva in the breeding habitat before it can mature in adult mosquitoes and disperse. The treatment of larvicides in breeding habitats helps reduce the population of adult mosquitoes in nearby areas.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito can use natural places or habitats (for example, tree holes and crevices in plants) and artificial containers with water to lay their eggs. During the day, it deposits its eggs in water containing organic matter (for example, decomposing leaves, algae, etc.), in containers with wide openings. It prefers dark-colored containers, located in the shade. Other places where they can lay their eggs are old tires, buckets, toys, trays and plant plates in pots, plastic caps and even places as small as bottle caps.
There are a variety of active ingredients registered by the EPA used in larvicides. It is recommended that an expert choose the larvicide that will be used in a given area since the choice will depend on a variety of factors, including potential human or environmental risk, cost, resistance and ease of use.
4. Control the adult mosquito
Using a pesticide registered by the EPA is one of the fastest and best options to combat an outbreak of mosquito-borne diseases that are spread by adult mosquitoes. Pesticides registered for this use are known as adulticides. Adulticides are applied by aerial applications by airplanes or on the ground by means of truck-mounted sprayers.
Aerial spraying techniques can treat large areas with only small amounts of pesticides and are a safe method used more than 50 years ago. These aerial sprayings were thoroughly evaluated by the EPA and do not present risks to people or the environment when used in accordance with the instructions on the label.
You can choose from a variety of registered adulticides. It is recommended that an expert choose the adulticide that will be used in a certain area since the choice will depend on a variety of factors, such as the type of mosquito, the mosquito’s resistance to certain types of pesticides, the weather, etc. In Puerto Rico, naled was the only existing product that showed 100% susceptibility in all the populations analyzed.