Updated May 9, 2021. Short version: dump standing water; larvicide water that can’t be dumped.
Here is the enemy:
But that photo shows mosquito larvae, which don’t bite.
Right, but once larvae hatch, they are harder to control. One female mosquito, with a protein infusion from blood, lays 100+ eggs. The eggs hatch into larvae, which fly away as adults in a few days. Continue reading →
Of course, all species are part of nature and part of the food chain. But birds, bats and others who consume mosquitoes must have more than their fill by now, and spotted lanternflies have no predators here. What can we do to cut down on the excess?
This red-bottomed bird bath in West Chester has mosquito eggs (the grain-like spots among the debris) floating on the surface. In another day, the eggs will hatch into larvae which will grow to about 3/8 inch long; they come to the surface to breathe, but forage for food farther down and will wriggle about if you tap the bird bath. A few more days and they become pupae, which look like small stalks hanging from the surface. Another day or two and the adult mosquitoes will emerge, spread its wings and fly away.
What do we do about it? Tip the water out of the bird bath (and all other sources of stagnant water) every few days!
Spotted lanternflies are a recent invasive species; their point of diffusion in the US seems to have been our part of Pennsylvania in about 2012. They have an attractive and even exotic look with some of their developmental phases (instars) being black with white spots and others featuring red. They suck sap from the stems of trees, some agricultural crops, shrubs like roses, and even lace vines. They favor newer, more tender growth… right where they (and their sticky excretions that host a blackish mold and the leaking sap that attracts other insects) do the most harm.
What do we do about it? The most environmental solution is to apply a band of sticky tape around any tree they are trying to crawl up. Only the adult phase has wings, and even those hop more than they fly; but they are very agile and hard to catch or squash. However, they definitely do not like being sprayed with a solution of dish soap and water; if you have an old spray bottle, that sends them hopping away and, after several applications, seems to deter them from returning to the same site.
The photo, from East Bradford, shows an early morning’s catch; by evening, the tape was entirely covered. You can almost feel sorry for them as you hear the crackling noise, like Rice Krispies in milk, of hundreds of feet lifting off the sticky tape, to no avail since all of the other 5 feet remain stuck. But do they feel sorry for the damage they do?
(If you use tape, be sure to cover it with chicken wire, as shown, to prevent birds from getting stuck as well.)
You might even think they are sort of cute… until you notice their tarry excretions killing everything underneath where they are sucking the sap of, in this case, a birch tree. Free Roundup, anyone?
According to Chester County Coroner Dr. Christina VandePol (download the Aug. 2 press release here),
The Chester County Coroner’s Office is releasing data on drug overdose deaths in Chester County from January 1, 2019 through June 30, 2019. A total of 65 people have been confirmed to have died of a drug overdose during this period, with 62 deaths determined to be accidental and 3 due to suicide. …
Something seems amiss in how the County organizes its services! The Health Department does not deal with this major health epidemic, but when you look at the Health Department home page you find under “Environmental Services”:
What does the spotted lanternfly have to do with human health? Why does the Health Department spend $200,000+ a year on mosquito control when the chief mosquito-related health problem it cites, West Nile Virus, has never caused one fatal case acquired in Chester County, compared to thousands of fatal opioid overdoses?
In the Health Department’s “A-Z Health Topic List,” you can find bats and dog licenses, and even Zika Virus (which is not transmitted by insects this far north), but no link to information about an epidemic that is killing an average of 2.5 people a week in Chester County! (You’d think Drug and Alcohol Services would feature itt, but good luck finding even one reference to fentanyl there.)
Why doesn’t the County have an Environment Department, with trained experts in environment and sustainability, to deal with concerns like over-proliferation of some species and existential threats to others, climate change, excessive water runoff, stream erosion, air and water pollution, environmental degradation from trash and especially single-use plastics, renewable energy, and so much more?
Then the Health Department could focus on its job: health.
[Please let us know if you try this non-toxic mosquito elimination method… and give thanks we don’t have the biting population New Orleans does!] By Susan Langenhennig, The Times-Picayune, May 27, 2014
If you’re waging war on mosquitoes, don’t waste your money on a bug zapper. They aren’t much of a solution. You’re more likely to catch moths than mosquitoes in the buzzing devices, and, as the New Orleans Mosquito, Termite and Rodent Control Board says, “bug zappers do more harm than good.” Continue reading →
West Chester, PA – Now that the weather is warming up, the Chester County Health Department encourages county residents to “Make you and your home a bite-free zone”, reducing the risk of mosquito-borne diseases like West Nile virus and Zika virus.
Because mosquito-borne diseases are spread through the bite of an infected mosquito, residents can reduce their risk by using insect repellent and other personal protection and getting rid of standing water on their property… download the full release under the heading “Make your home a Mosquito-FREE zone” at CHESTER COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT
Below is the text of the letter from Mayor Carolyn Comitta being circulated to Borough residents in May, 2016. Download pdf here: Mayor’s mosquito letter.
Dear Borough Resident and/or Property Owner:
Since West Chester Borough’s beginnings, its citizens and leaders have valued and protected our environment. The recognition of the importance of green stewardship still resonates today through the many environmentally focused and sustainable initiatives in place throughout the Borough.
The most recent of these initiatives is the West Nile Task Force (WNTF), formed of Borough leaders, staff, and citizens, whose involvement began last summer when there was a realization for the need to protect the community against pesticide spraying, in order to create awareness and educate the community on the importance of mosquito control practices in the Borough. By eliminating potential breeding grounds for mosquito larvae, the need for spraying pesticides should be greatly reduced. This task force works closely with the Chester County Health Department (CCHD) in order to identify best management practices in preventing mosquitos from breeding on Borough properties.
This task force, with the help of the “Don’t Spray Me” group of borough residents, will look to educate our residents and property owners on how to take the correct preventative measures to keep mosquitos from breeding and to hopefully eliminate the need for spraying anti-mosquito pesticides in the Borough. The spraying of these pesticides becomes necessary only if adult mosquitos in an area test positive for WNV and is regarded by the CCHD as a last resort.
Let’s use the first resort: preventing mosquitoes from breeding! Yes, our own yards and houses are a large part of the problem!
Here are some things you can do to ensure you are not creating potential breeding grounds on your property:
• Do not leave trash cans outside uncovered.
• Keep wading pools covered or emptied.
• Do not store old tires outside.
• Wheelbarrows, pots, plastic containers, etc. should be turned over so as to not collect water.
• Do not allow water in bird baths to become stagnant.
• Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers to eliminate standing water.
• Clean roof gutters, particularly if leaves from surrounding trees have a tendency to plug drains.
• Clean and chlorinate swimming pools regularly.
• Apply larvicide to areas of stagnant water that cannot be drained.
As your Mayor, I recognize the importance of protecting our community. So let’s all work together and tackle the mosquito issue. With your help, we can make West Chester a clean, green and bite-free zone!