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DO OUTDOOR MOZZIE TREATMENTS WORK?

Is Demand Insecticide as effective at creating a mosquito treatment zone as bifenthrin or a placebo? Dale Hudson of Syngenta Professional Pest Management looks at the evidence.

Summer is a great time in Australia, particularly around the Christmas season when we get together with friends and family and enjoy the great outdoors, whether it’s at a venue or at home. Most of us attempt to avoid areas where mosquitoes populate, especially come nightfall when they start to bite.

As pest managers you can help by providing outdoor mosquito treatments, and professional advice, to your customers. Whilst pest managers are unable to eliminate 100% of mosquitoes, you can reduce the pressure. A key component to any program is using a barrier insecticide spray such as Demand Insecticide from Syngenta, which can drastically reduce mosquito numbers and increase the enjoyment of outdoor areas. In some cases, a treatment may render an outdoor site suitable for entertaining whereas before it might not have been. Commercial sites such as restaurants and hotels are always looking for ways to improve the experience of their customers when dining alfresco.

The key to success in this market is to simply remind all your customers, both domestic and commercial, that you can provide a service to reduce the impact of mosquitoes on their families or patrons. You will create more business for yourself, whilst offering a solution to a very real problem for your customers.

Demand Insecticide is ideal for this, with its fast knockdown and excellent residual properties. The active ingredient
is protected by iCAP technology that allows the product to remain on hard surfaces for longer than conventional synthetic pyrethroids. The microencapsulated formula in Demand helps the insecticide stay on treated surfaces longer, extending time for mosquito pick up. With a treatment delivering more than 64,000 microcaps per square centimetre, the microcaps adhere to the mosquito, allowing the active ingredient, lambda-cyhalothrin, to rapidly move out of the capsule and into the insect.

Backyard research

In 2004, the University of Kentucky (USA) conducted a field study to investigate what homeowners thought about localised mosquito control programs. They applied three products to homes – Demand, bifenthrin, and a placebo (water) – then monitored the impact of each treatment.

The study found that populations in mosquito traps were reduced by 60% and, more importantly, human landings were reportedly reduced by 73% over a six-week period.

It is the human landing results that make this data significant – if you can reduce your customer’s exposure to mosquitoes by as much as 73%, they will see a marked improvement in their ability to use and enjoy their outdoor spaces. Comments from the homeowners varied depending on the kind of treatment their house had received. A homeowner whose house had been treated with the placebo reported the following, in response to questions regarding the control achieved: “Horrible, they have been vicious. I sat outside the other night and got at least 10 bites in 30 minutes.”

This contrasts with comments made by homeowners of the treated properties, which included statements such as “I may have been bitten once or so, I did not realise how good it was until I went to my neighbour’s [home].”

The value of pest management

The point of the study was to determine the value that homeowners place on the benefit of having a mosquito-free backyard. Even if the mosquitoes were not 100% eradicated, would a 73% reduction in mosquito populations be enough of an improvement to justify paying for a professional pest treatment? The answer is yes – half of those who received a single pyrethroid treatment indicated they would be willing to pay for such a service on a recurring basis (e.g. monthly).

This shows that a reduction in mosquito populations is considered a significant benefit to those suffering from nuisance mosquitoes. For pest managers, domestic and commercial mosquito control is a way of creating value for your business, when carried out in a professional way.

In this study, the assessments of mosquito activity were taken at six weeks although control may continue for longer, depending on environmental conditions.

Best practice tips for mosquito treatments

  • The equipment you use to apply mosquito control products can be just as important as the product you select. Proper equipment maintenance, such as cleaning and calibration, will ensure accurate product application.
  • Involve the homeowner or commercial business owner in efforts to reduce mosquito breeding sites.
  • Use appropriate chemistry and identify and treat areas typically used as mosquito resting sites e.g. Demand should be applied to hard surfaces, outdoor furniture/under decks, in plant pots and any other potential landing sites.
  • Manage customer expectations – mosquito control is about managing mosquito populations and reducing the chances of being bitten, not ensuring complete mosquito elimination.

Dale Hudson, Business Manager, Syngenta Professional Pest Management

Adapted from Syngenta articles by Dr Nicky Gallagher, Austin M Frishman (PhD) and Paul Jackson.

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