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AUSTRALIA’S CURRENT LA NIÑA AND THE EFFECTS ON MOSQUITO POPULATIONS

With the heavy rains giving rise to explosions in mosquito populations, it’s a good idea to revisit best practice for mosquito treatments to avoid the dreaded callback. Check out Syngenta’s 5 tips for successful mosquito treatments.

We have certainly all felt the effect of Australia’s La Niña in 2022, especially across the eastern seaboard where record rains have fallen across Queensland, Victoria, and New South Wales.

The latest forecasts indicate that La Niña – Australia’s third in a row – will peak in November before gradually weaking through the summer months. However, just because forecasters state that the end of the cycle is in sight, that does not mean the rain will stop.

With the rain expected to continue, a more humid, steamier summer is predicted. And if the forecasters’ predictions are correct, you can guess what this means: the perfect breeding season for mosquitoes.

With more than 3500 species of mosquitoes in the world, some estimates suggest that there may be as many as 110 trillion individuals at any one time, outnumbering humans almost 16,000 to one. Australia is home to more than 300 species, several of which are serious pests and/or disease vectors. Others are essential to our ecology, and some are totally harmless to humans, pets and livestock.

While all mosquitoes need water, the type of water they seek varies between the different species; some prefer freshwater, others seek saltwater. Some mosquitoes will tolerate polluted habitats while others will avoid them. From coastal rock pools to mountain ponds, and every type of habitat in between, mosquitoes can be found.

As with any pest treatment, it is best practice to have a management plan in place from the start. As treating for mosquitoes typically involves fogging or space spraying, it is always important to minimise the impact on the environment when devising the most appropriate management strategy.

 

Products for mosquito control

There are two main types of insecticides for use against mosquitoes: larvicides and adulticides. Larvicides are applied to water bodies, both small and large. They can be effective over larger areas, particularly if applied aerially. Larvicides require a targeted application and generally have a good safety and environmental profile, although they can sometimes impact aquatic invertebrates, so it’s important to follow the label. They can be used to directly treat water breeding sites in most situations.

Adulticides give rapid knockdown of adult mosquitoes by penetrating the nesting and roosting sites of dormant or resting/inactive populations. Adulticides are best applied using misting equipment to ensure the droplets make contact with target surfaces. The mist will also disturb the air and foliage to ensure adult mosquitoes are affected.

Demand 100CS spray gives fast knockdown while also providing long residual control due to its encapsulation, using iCAP technology. The active ingredient, lambda-cyhalothrin, remains encapsulated when sprayed onto a surface, where it is then picked up on the mosquito cuticle. The insecticide then diffuses from the capsule through the cuticle and into the insect. Demand 100CS gives up to 14 weeks of mosquito control and can be applied directly to foliage.

 

Spray foliage for mosquitoes
Foliage can be treated using a sprayer or fogger

 

After applying an appropriate insecticide, there are plenty of tips you can give a homeowner to ensure your mosquito management plan continues to work as long as possible. For example, ask them to inspect their roof for leaks and keep an eye out for leaking taps or air conditioning units. Any leaks should be repaired and gutters cleaned frequently to eliminate the possibility of standing water. Items such as wheelbarrows, buckets and children’s outdoor toys should be stored upside down or tidied away. Do they have a swimming pool? If so, it should be cleaned regularly (along with the pool covers) and the water kept chlorinated. Garden sprinklers should be adjusted to prevent overwatering, which can create ideal conditions for mosquito breeding.

With La Niña likely to generate rainfall in the months ahead, getting your customers on board with your mosquito management plan will lead to much more successful outcomes.

 

Five tips for successful mosquito treatments

  1. Familiarise yourself and your technicians with state and local regulations regarding mosquito control.
  2. Understand your role in conjunction with other municipal control efforts, such as larvicide treatments.
  3. Conduct thorough inspections and advise customers how to reduce breeding sites and personal exposure.
  4. Follow label directions for mosquito treatments and target treatments towards resting areas.
  5. Manage your customers’ expectations and explain treatment methods. Avoid any claims of complete mosquito control or disease prevention.

 

It is important to try and obtain existing information related to ongoing mosquito management (such as  complaints, disease reports, breeding site maps, land use/ownership, etc) as well as to undertake baseline adult and larval mosquito population surveys if possible. Also be sure to analyse any available Local Government Area (LGA) data to determine the need for complementary mosquito treatments.