Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Mosquito season upon us
Spring rains and warmer weather usually spell mosquitoes. To prove this to myself, I've been watching my backyard fountain slowly fill with recent rains, leaves and catkins from nearby oak trees. Last week I was rewarded(!?) with my first mosquito wigglers.
Mosquito "wiggler" and "tumbler" are informal terms for the larval and pupal (immature) life stages of a mosquito. Mosquito wigglers live in water, and as soon as temperatures get warm enough to drive their development, they quickly mature and emerge from pools and containers wherever they may be found. After last summer's record West Nile virus season, any news about mosquitoes is bad news to us in Texas, and especially the Dallas area. But the species emerging right now are not likely to be the disease-carriers of last summer.
According to Scott Sawlis of the Dallas County Health and Human Services Department, in north Texas we are now more likely to see Culex restuans, or one of the other early mosquito species that do better in cool weather. These cool season mosquitoes are not considered important in the spread of West Nile virus or other encephalitis diseases. Nevertheless, these mosquitoes still bite and are not welcome around your customer's home.
My backyard observation site gave me the chance to photograph and put together a short video about what to look for if you see a suspicious puddle of water around your yard. Mosquito larvae are not all that easy to see unless you know what you are looking for. Any water-holding container, regardless of whether you see mosquitoes or not, should be considered a potential breeding site. Early in the season is a good time to scout out these water traps and treat or eliminate them before the REALLY bad mosquitoes show up.
I advised in my last post to take advantage of your residential service calls to check your customer's backyards for mosquito breeding sites. If you do find a suspected breeding hole, advise your customer to drain it, or fill it in with sand, gravel or soil. This will immediately kill any mosquito larvae breeding there. If the source is too deep or impossible to drain, mosquito dunks or granules, containing Bacillus thuringiensis or S-methoprene are available through pest control distributors. Ask your distributor, but typically these professional products can last from 30-90 days.
I betting that, at least for some of your customers, a little good will in the form of pointing out a potential mosquito problem is likely to earn some customer-retention brownie points.