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Archive for the ‘Mosquitos’ Category

The Summer Season Has Not Yet Arrived, But Disease-Carrying Mosquitoes Are Already Abundant In New Orleans

Louisiana’s subtropical climate is conducive to mosquitoes, and although the summer season has not yet arrived, residents of New Orleans are already feeling overwhelmed by the abundance of mosquito species that are capable of transmitting disease to humans. In fact, city-wide pest surveillance detected an unusually high mosquito population in various areas of New Orleans last April. In response to this finding, city officials wasted no time carrying out area-wide insecticide applications throughout the entirety of Algiers and a few isolated areas nearby. The area-wide mosquito abatement operation targeted Culex quinquefasciatus, or the “southern house mosquito,” as the species is more commonly known.

According to a recent nationwide survey of pest management professionals, the southern house mosquito was the second most commonly controlled mosquito pest within American homes during 2016, after the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), which is also a disease-carrying species that is abundant in Louisiana. The southern house mosquito is capable of transmitting Saint Louis encephalitis, western equine encephalitis, and the West Nile virus, and they are active from dusk until dawn. Adult females of this species are able to deposit eggs in virtually any source of standing water, including bird baths, old tires, wastewater, and rainwater that collects in manmade objects in urban and suburban areas. Larvae emerge from hatched eggs 24 to 30 hours after they are deposited, and larvae develop into adults within a period of five to eight days, depending on climatic conditions.

Both male and female southern house mosquitoes feed on sugar from plants, but only females collect blood meals from humans and certain mammals and birds. Each night, females opportunistically collect blood meals from the first suitable hosts they find. Many southern house mosquitoes are already capable of transmitting disease to humans in Louisiana, as mosquitoes acquire disease pathogens from birds while nesting during the spring. The southern house mosquito is an invasive species in the US that lives in close association with humans due to their dependence of manmade water sources for reproduction. Keeping residential yards free of standing water will reduce breeding sites and will prevent large numbers of southern house mosquito females from becoming prevalent around homes. Since these mosquitoes readily enter homes, it is important to seal potential entry points on screens and on the exterior walls of homes. Standing water within homes should be minimized by keeping sinks free of water and dirty dishes, and house plants should not be over-watered.

Do you do your part to eliminate mosquito breeding sites on your property?

West Nile-Carrying Mosquitoes Have Been Detected In Louisiana Earlier Than Usual This Year

Every year, state-employed entomologists collect thousands of mosquitoes from traps located in urban, suburban and rural areas. Entomologists test each captured mosquito for diseases that can be transmitted to humans. In Louisiana, infected mosquitoes are not usually found until May or later, but this year the first infected mosquito found in the state turned up on March 2nd near a Baton Rouge elementary school. While infected mosquitoes in Louisiana have been found earlier in the year a few times in the past, March is an unusually early time of year for infected mosquitoes to be turning up in urban areas of Baton Rouge, especially considering that August is usually when the first infected mosquitoes are found in the city.

The captured mosquito specimen was carrying bacteria that cause the West Nile virus, and in response to the discovery, a mosquito abatement program is already being carried out within a one mile radius of where the infected specimen was found. However, nighttime insecticide spraying has not yet started in the area due to low evening temperatures and high wind speeds, and aerial spraying starts later in the summer seasons. According to experts, it may be weeks before another infected mosquito specimen is found, or the disease could start spreading fast among humans, there is no way to estimate how many people will contract the West Nile virus in Louisiana this year. In order to be on the safe side, officials with the mosquito abatement program are urging Baton Rouge residents to start taking precautions to avoid mosquito bites. These precautions include applying mosquito repellent before spending time outdoors, wearing long sleeves, avoiding the outdoors during the early morning and late afternoon hours when mosquitoes are most active, and keeping residential lawns free of containers that can gather water and serve as mosquito breeding sites. During 2019, at least 20 people in Louisiana contracted the West Nile virus, and two died from the disease.

Have you started taking precautions against mosquito bites?

How A Tire Shredder Will Help To Prevent The Transmission Of Mosquito-Borne Disease In Baton Rouge

With summer approaching fast, it is that time of year when we have to start worrying about mosquitoes and their unwanted presence. The warmer weather brings with it the great onslaught of mosquitoes to our homes and outdoor activities. Across the country experts and officials have been trying to combat the issue of mosquitoes returning, with efforts being made to try and prevent the hatching of many new mosquitoes and control the intensity and strength of the reappearance of these pests. Baton Rouge is using a novel approach to their mosquito problems this year, looking at alternative and rather unorthodox solutions to combat mosquito pest issues.

Baton Rouge’s newest plan of attack, a program spearheaded by city councilman Matt Watson, was so ingenious and smart that the Center for Disease Control gave the city a grant for $605,000 to purchase this unorthodox solution. The grant money was spent on a massive tire shredder. As you may know, tires laying around often get filled with rainwater, this stagnant water makes abandoned tires a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. The rainwater collecting inside those tires isn’t able to evaporate, and this creates a dark, warm breeding spot for mosquitoes. According to the Interim Director for Baton Rouge’s Mosquito Abatement and Rodent Control Randy Vaeth, says that these abandoned tires are more of an issue than people believe. The Asian tiger mosquito, which is one of the biggest invasive across the world, was actually brought to the U.S. because they hitched a ride in abandoned tires in 1985.

The plan is for Vaeth and MARC to analyze the location of abandoned tires and mosquito population breeding in them with traps for mosquitoes and mosquito eggs before they shred the tires and afterwards. Vaeth is confident that they will see a massive decrease in those mosquito populations after the tires are shredded. At first there was some debate as to where the new tire shredder would be placed. After some debate, it has been placed at the Baton Rouge North Maintenance Lot, which is located in an unincorporated area between the cities of Baker and Zachary. While MARC received the grant, Baum Environmental will actually be operating the facility. They will be gathering abandoned tires throughout the parish, shredding them, and selling the materials to be reused, a service that Baum is not charging the city or taxpayers for doing. While it has taken some time to finally agree on a location, which must be locked down before the shredder can actually be purchased, Watson is confident that they will be able to get it purchased and the facility up and running before Fall arrives this year.

Do you think this new approach to mosquito control will be a success?

Highly Aggressive Cattail Mosquitoes Readily Enter Homes At Night Where They Inflict Vicious Bites That Tear Clothing, And They Are Known To Transmit EEE And West Nile To Humans

It is next to impossible to avoid mosquito bites during the summer in Louisiana, as numerous mosquito species thrive in the wet and exceedingly humid Gulf Coast climate. More than 60 mosquito species have been documented as inhabiting Louisiana, many of which are capable of transmitting a number of diseases to humans, such as the West Nile virus, eastern equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, and Lacrosse encephalitis.

Louisiana is also home to two invasive mosquito species that are commonly known as yellow fever mosquitoes and Asian tiger mosquitoes. These species transmit the Zika virus, chikungunya, and dengue fever, but these three diseases have not been reported in Louisiana. In addition to the two invasive species, the native southern house mosquito is one of the primary mosquito vector species in New Orleans. Coquillettidia perturbans, more commonly known as the “cattail mosquito,” is another disease-carrying mosquito species in Louisiana, and they are unique for their unusually large size, fast flying speeds, and for their habit of readily entering homes in the middle of the night where they persistently inflict painful bites to humans.

Female cattail mosquitoes lay massive amounts of eggs in woodland marshes where emerging larvae attach themselves to the roots and stems of aquatic plants in order to remain submerged until reaching adulthood in mid June or July. While most species of mosquito larvae develop in aquatic habitats where they periodically breathe underwater through a smooth siphon (breathing tube), cattail mosquito larvae are unique for possessing a sharp siphon that is outfitted with teeth. In order to breathe while spending months entirely submerged in swamps, cattail larvae access air by using their saw-like siphon to pierce hollow plant roots and stems.

Since cattail larvae remain underwater during their larval and pupal stages, they are the only mosquitoes that avoid insecticide exposure from community-wide aerial insecticide operations. Because larvae survive community-wide mosquito control efforts, they are unusually abundant in urban, suburban and rural areas of Louisiana during the mid summer to fall months. Cattail mosquito adults are hard to miss due to their bulky, striped and “shaggy” bodies, and females collect blood meals shortly after sundown and into the early morning. They often appear in homes, especially when they are hungry, and their very painful bites are known to penetrate clothing.

Have you ever sustained painful mosquito bites in your home?

Can Urban Mosquito Species In Louisiana Transmit The Deadly EEE Virus To Humans?

Due to several non-native disease-carrying mosquito species that have established an invasive habitat in urban and suburban areas of the US during the past 20 years, mosquito-borne disease has become a major public health threat in the country. Just three years ago, a number of Americans in Florida and Texas contracted the Zika virus, and the rate of West Nile infections has been steadily increasing in the US since the disease was introduced into the country two decades ago. This year, the mosquito-borne disease known as eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) has infected and killed an unprecedented number of people in the country. While no human EEE cases have occured in Louisiana this year, it should be known that urban-dwelling mosquito species in the state are capable of transmitting the disease to humans and certain animals.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US sees seven EEE cases per year on average, but 2019 has already seen well over 30 EEE cases, and EEE season has not yet ended. In fact, the latest victim of EEE succumbed to the disease two days ago, which marked the 13th death to result from EEE infection this year in the US. So far, EEE has been reported in the northeast, around the Great Lakes and in Florida, but most states are home to mosquito species that are capable of transmitting the disease to humans. In many states, including Louisiana, mosquitoes frequently transmit EEE to dogs, cats and horses. In Louisiana, 16 horses were recently found to be infected with EEE, which public health officials in the state claim is an unusually high number of EEE infections. 

Mosquitoes acquire the microorganisms that cause EEE by consuming the blood of certain bird species. After feeding on infected birds, mosquitoes can then transmit the disease to humans through their bites. Uninfected mosquitoes can also acquire the disease by feeding on the blood of infected animals. This is why mosquitoes that can carry EEE are often referred to as “bridge vectors,” as they are solely responsible for exposing the bird-virus to healthy humans. Around 30 percent of those who contract EEE will die from the disease, and no vaccines exist for EEE. Also, no medical treatments have been demonstrated to slow the progression of EEE infection, and most people who contact the disease die from consequent brain swelling within a month or two following infection. Since EEE poses a serious public health threat in Louisiana during most of the year, residents should never leave home without first applying DEET repellent. Unfortunately, experts state that EEE cannot be eradicated from an area once local mosquitoes begin carrying the disease.

Do you worry about the possibility of contracting EEE from mosquito bites?

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