Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Go on a mosquito safari with new website

explore a virtual backyard by clicking on hidden hot-spots that lead to information about mosquitoesWhen it comes to mosquitoes disrupting the backyard barbecue, most of us want to point fingers. We want to blame the city for not spraying, or our neighbors for creating a nuisance. But a significant part of the time, we are our own worst enemies.

That's the subtle message of a new website I've just completed. But no one's pointing fingers, just pointing out the many place that mosquitoes breed and hide out in the average backyard.

The Mosquito Safari website will take you on a virtual tour of your backyard, encouraging you to see your property from the tiny perspective of a mosquito. Did you know that an old tire makes the perfect mosquito home? That garbage cans and garbage lids are one of the most common breeding sites for mosquitoes? What about bird feeders and bird houses in areas where West Nile virus is common--does attracting birds to your backyard make the risk worse?

These and many other questions will be answered as you take the time to explore this site. Topics covered include mosquito biology and life cycles, risks of mosquitoes to humans and pets, how to identify the most common mosquito pests, and the steps you can take to reduce mosquito bites in your own backyard.

If you visit, be sure to turn on the sound, as much of the site is narrated.

For pest management professionals, the site might be a good way to reinforce the messages your technicians are giving your customers about the things they can do to reduce their risks. New technicians? Mosquito Safari can provide at least a half hour of training time for trainees.

Of course a site like this is not developed by just one person. I want to acknowledge the Dallas County Health Department, and former entomologist there, Scott Sawlis, for invaluable help and guidance in design of the site. Dr. Mark Johnsen, mosquito expert with Texas AgriLife Extension in College Station, was also very helpful providing advice and support. One of my desires was to make the site visually interesting and graphical in all aspects, and for this I thank the number of people willing to contribute images of mosquitoes and mosquito-related topics.

Please check it out and let me know what you think.

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