Mosquitoes are deadliest insect on Earth: Daleville battles mosquito population, encourages citizens to do the same
BY Jan Murray firstname.lastname@example.org
Spring and summer are synonymous with mosquito season in the South. Because of mosquito-born diseases residents must be more vigilant in both preventing bites and breeding grounds for the insect.Most towns and cities have a spraying program to aid in the control of mosquitoes. Daleville is not different. In fact, Department of Public Works Director Jerry James said the city is serious about fighting the problem and spends a great deal of money and time annually. However, he said residents have to do their part as well.Why is mosquito control so important?Mosquitoes are known to transmit serious diseases, such as yellow fever, malaria, encephalitis, West Nile Virus and dengue fever, just to name a few. According to the American Mosquito Control Association, more than a million people worldwide die from mosquito-born diseases every year.According to insects.about.com, mosquitoes, not hornets or killer bees, but mosquitoes are the deadliest insects on Earth. The website states, “Mosquitoes alone can’t do us much harm, but as disease carriers, these insects are downright lethal” because of the diseases they carry.This year, a great deal of attention has been given to a little known virus called Zika. While not as well known in the United States, the virus is wreaking havoc in other parts of the world, particularly in the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, tropical Africa, Pacific islands and in Central American countries, such as Brazil. It is transmitted to humans primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, these “aggressive daytime biters” lay eggs in and near standing water in things like buckets, bowls, animal dishes, flower pots, vases and other water-holding items.Zika is particularly concerning because of what it does to unborn children—unusually small heads/microcephaly—and because it can be transmitted from person to person through sexual contact.In a recent news release from the Alabama Department of Public Health, State Epidemiologist Dr. Mary McIntyre said, “All persons who are planning travel to or recently returning from locations with known transmission of Zika virus should take steps to protect themselves and others.”The release goes on to say, “There have been recent reports that Zika virus is spread through blood transfusion and sexual contact.” Specifically, the release states that pregnant women should not travel to Zika-affected areas; men who have traveled to Zika-affected areas and have pregnant partners should abstain from sex or consistently and correctly use condoms for the duration of the pregnancy for all forms of sexual activity; and men who have traveled to Zika-affected areas and have non-pregnant partners should consider abstaining from sexual activity or consistently and correctly use condoms.”James said all mosquitoes require water to breed, even if only a small amount of water. He said mosquito larvae develop quickly and it’s important for residents to eliminate standing water in and around their homes. He said that his workers spend two nights of each week spraying the entire city during the evenings (5 p.m. and after), using a chemical called Kontrol 4-4, one of the “best and most popular” chemical sprays municipalities use. The primary active ingredient in Kontrol 4-4 is Permethrin.The chemical company’s website states, “As a non-corrosive, it won't damage cars, trucks or airplanes. Its broad spectrum, superior formulation is clean and clear and provides quick knockdown (and kill) most mosquito species as well as other Diptera species such as biting and non-biting midges, black flies and gnats…Relief starts in just seconds…May be applied over specific crops including alfalfa and range grasses, residential, municipalities, playgrounds, parks, golf courses, woodlands and campgrounds.”It takes 15 gallons of Kontrol 4-4 at $40 per gallon, $600 every week, to spray the city of Daleville. James said his crew sprays when complaints of mosquitoes come in and then continue spraying through the warmer months of spring, summer and most of fall. “The mosquito program is an expensive program, but it’s an important program,” he said. “(Besides standing water), some plants, like monkey grass, are breeding areas. And, plants with big leaves…The eggs can lay dormant for five years and still hatch.”James said the chemical kills the mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus.For more information on mosquito control and the Zika virus, go to cdc.gov or the state health department’s website,www.adph.org.