Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902
To help reduce mosquito populations and the risk
of mosquito-borne illnesses, DNREC urges residents
to eliminate sources of backyard standing water
DOVER (April 12, 2016) – DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife Mosquito Control Section urges Delaware residents to “Fight the Bite!” by helping reduce local mosquito production on their residential, commercial or industrial properties through good water sanitation practices.
This effort involves regularly draining or changing unneeded sources of standing water that are stagnant for four or more consecutive days – or better yet, preventing water accumulation in the first place by upending, removing or storing indoors any outdoor containers that can hold water. “Mosquito Control & Your Backyard,” a new video on DNREC’s YouTube channel, includes more information on these good water sanitation practices.
Of the 57 mosquito species known to live in Delaware, 19 are problematic for people, either by biting or potentially transmitting mosquito-borne illnesses, or both. From early May through the first hard freeze in the fall, two of these species – the common house mosquito (Culex pipiens), a native species, and the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), an invasive species first found here in 1987 – are common where people live, work or recreate in urban and suburban settings. In addition to their annoying bites, these mosquitoes are of particular concern due to their potential to carry and transmit illnesses, with the house mosquito a known carrier of West Nile virus, and the Asian tiger mosquito a possible Delaware vector for West Nile, chikungunya and Zika viruses.
“At this time, we have no evidence in Delaware that local Asian tiger mosquitoes have served as vectors to transmit Zika or chikungunya viruses to people,” said Delaware Mosquito Control Administrator Dr. William Meredith, DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife. “However, science suggests that if local Asian tiger mosquitoes bite a returning traveler who has an active case of either of these viruses, those mosquitoes could become carriers and transmit Zika or chikungunya to those they bite next, with the potential to spread the viruses among humans and local mosquitoes.”
“The larvae of both the house mosquito and the Asian tiger mosquito can grow in a variety of containers holding water in our backyards, so the best way to control both of these species is by eliminating such standing water,” Dr. Meredith said. “Due to the hard-to-reach and often hidden aquatic habitats where they deposit eggs that hatch into larvae, as well as the behaviors of adult mosquitos, Asian tiger mosquitos pose a particular challenge to control through our chemical insecticides or biological measures alone.”
During mosquito season, property owners are urged to do their part by cleaning debris from clogged rain gutters and emptying water from corrugated downspout extenders; frequently changing water in birdbaths; draining unused swimming pools and kiddie wading pools; and by preventing or draining standing water from outdoor containers such as discarded tires, cans, buckets, flower pot liners, children’s toys, unprotected water cisterns, upright wheelbarrows, uncovered trash cans, upturned trash can lids, open or lidless dumpsters, plugged or undrained boats, sags in tarps covering boats or ATVs, or other water-holding containers.
In comparison to many other mosquito species, common house mosquitoes and Asian tiger mosquitoes have short flight ranges of only a few hundred yards from where they hatch, but even this short distance can be enough to infest a neighborhood. Common house mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn, but will also feed throughout the night. Asian tiger mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters, but also feed at dusk and dawn.
“By practicing good water sanitation on their properties, residents will be helping themselves and their neighbors too – and the best results come from community-wide participation,” Dr. Meredith said, noting that means involving county or local municipal governments, homeowner or civic associations, property management groups or maintenance corporations as well as individual property owners in this common cause. “In the fight against house mosquitoes and Asian tiger mosquitoes, we’re all in this together – and every little bit helps.”
"Zika transmission continues to spread to new countries and the best way for people to protect themselves from Zika or any mosquito-borne illness is to prevent mosquito bites during travel abroad and during Delaware's mosquito season. It is possible that local transmission could occur either from mosquito bites once the season starts, from sexual transmission or from mother to baby during pregnancy,” said Division of Public Health Medical Director Dr. Awele Maduka-Ezeh. “Taking precautions to stop mosquitoes from breeding around your home and preventing bites is the best protection."
To report intolerable numbers of biting mosquitoes and request local relief, call Mosquito Control’s field offices:
Glasgow Office, 302-836-2555, serving New Castle County and the northern half of Kent County, including Dover
Milford Office, 302-422-1512, serving the southern half of Kent County south of Dover and all of Sussex County
For more information about Delaware’s Mosquito Control program, including more information about how to prevent or get rid of standing water that produces mosquitoes, call the field offices or the main Dover office at 302-739-9917, or visit http://de.gov/mosquito.
For more information about Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses in humans, please contact the Delaware Division of Public Health at 302-744-1033 or 888-295-5156. Facts and information on Zika and mosquito control also are available at the following links:
DNREC’s Mosquito Control Section provides statewide services to about 945,000 Delaware residents and 7.5 million visitors annually to maintain quality of life and protect public health by reducing the possibility of mosquito-borne illnesses such as West Nile virus, eastern equine encephalitis, chikungunya and Zika virus. Throughout the warmer months, Mosquito Control monitors and treats mosquito populations that emerge from wetland areas throughout the state, including ditches, stormwater ponds, wet woodlands and coastal salt marshes, using EPA-registered insecticides. These insecticides have been determined by EPA to pose no unreasonable risk to human health, wildlife or the environment when professionally applied. The Section also works year-round on water and marsh management projects designed to reduce mosquito populations, and provides the public with information on dealing with mosquitoes, from reducing backyard mosquito production to avoiding mosquito bites. For more information, call 302-739-9917 or visit http://de.gov/mosquito.
Follow the Division of Fish & Wildlife on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DelawareFishWildlife.
Vol. 46, No. 122