Urban IPM

Friday, July 22, 2016

Mosquito and mosquito disease information

I know there has been a LOT of talk and information about mosquitoes and diseases they transmit, but I want to gather a bunch of information (from reputable sources) for you to use in case you need it.  So instead of remaking the wheel here, I will be linking to other good sources of information for you to check out.

Mike Merchant's post on Zika virus & NEW PUBLICATIONS FOR TEXANS!

Mike Merchant's post on do-it-yourself thermal fogging for mosquitoes

AgriLife's Mosquitoes of Texas page

City of Austin Vector Control- "The Rodent and Vector Control program assists individual property owners with eradicating mosquitoes and rodents on their property."

Williamson County Mosquito Control District

Hays County Mosquito Surveillance

Texas Mosquito Control Association

TMCA's list of organized mosquito control districts in Texas

CDC information

Zika virus



West Nile Virus

Texas Department of State Health Services information

Zika virus



West Nile Virus

Friday, July 8, 2016

Hi! Remember me? West Nile Virus

With all the media attention on Zika lately, not many people are discussing (or are concerned with) West Nile Virus.  This disease is still around and may become a concern later this summer due to the hot, dry conditions we are currently experiencing in Central Texas.

Cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) are generally seen in summer and increase throughout summer and into fall.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, most people (70-80%) that become infected with WNV show no symptoms.  About 1 in 5 people develop a fever or other symptoms such as headache, body aches, vomiting or diarrhea; this is called West Nile fever.  Less than 1% of the people infected develop serious neurological illness such as encephalitis (inflammation/ swelling of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation/ swelling of the tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord); this is called West Nile neuroinvasive disease.

West Nile is generally transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito.  Mosquitoes become carriers by feeding on infected birds and can then transmit the virus to other animals, including humans.  Multiple species of mosquitoes have been found carrying West Nile Virus, but it is predominately transmitted by Culex mosquitoes.  Unfortunately the Southern house mosquito, Culex quinquefasciatus, is fairly common here and is many times found coming into homes (hence it's common name).

WNV can also be transmitted through blood transfusions, transplants and mother to child via pregnancy or breastfeeding.  It is NOT spread through touching or kissing.
This unused and uncovered hot tub is a perfect mosquito habitat.
People over 50 are at a higher risk to get severe illness, so they should take care to avoid mosquito bites.  If someone spends a lot of time outdoors, they are more likely to be bitten and should pay attention while outside and try to avoid mosquito bites.
Tips for avoiding mosquito bites:

  1. Stay indoors during peak mosquito hours*- dawn & dusk
    1. *please note that some Aedes mosquitoes are day time feeders while some Culex are night time feeders in addition to being active at dusk and dawn, so precaution should be taken whenever outside
  2. Eliminate standing water
    1. Dispose of old tires or cover them with a tarp to keep off rain
    2. Clean out gutters and downspouts
    3. Bird baths, pet water dishes, etc. should be emptied and refilled twice a week
    4. Store containers so they do not hold water
  3. Keep grass mowed to a proper length & vegetation trimmed (mosquitoes like to rest in thick vegetation)
  4. Repair leaky faucets or A/C lines that produce condensate
  5. In permanent standing water areas, use things like mosquito fish or Bt israelensis (dunks)
  6. Keep window screens in good repair
  7. Use repellents when going outside (follow label instructions).
 For a map of West Nile cases in Texas click here. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

House flies

Instead of complaining about all the rain we're getting, should we all switch to complaining about how HOT it is?

Warmer temperatures speed up development time of insects.  This means that they can reproduce and offspring reach adulthood faster allowing them to produce their offspring  which will reach adulthood rapidly and so on.  Do you see how this can cause pest problems?

The insect I'm focusing on today is the house fly. Why this particular insect?  Well, they are the ones that currently drive me crazy when I'm making dinner.  Having them buzzing around while I'm prepping food isn't ideal.  And please don't tell me about hanging bags of water....it doesn't work.  My fly problems are further compounded because my lab chases them around the house without regard to where she is going, so she is jumping around, banging into everything, snapping at them with her jaws.  It's amusing until she plows into you.

So since we all pretty much know what a housefly looks like, I'll skip to the nitty-gritty....what to do about them in your house.  For the adults, it's really best to get a fly swatter or something similar to smack them with (good old fashioned mechanical control!).  I get rather obsessive about stalking flies around my house which is now much more difficult since the dog is trying to "help".  There are also things such as fly strips which can physically trap the adults, but be aware that you will have a strip of dead or struggling flies dangling in your house.

The best way to deal with house flies is to locate possible sources where the maggots (baby flies or larvae) are developing.  This is going to most likely be associated with some sort of organic matter.  I, personally, am going to clean out my garbage and recycling cans of all the funk that has accumulated (not the actual garbage or recyclables, but the stuff that leaks out into the bottom). The other thing that I need to do is get on a more regular schedule of picking up the dog waste in the backyard and throwing it away.  I usually do that once per week, but I need to double up now that it's warmer.  Of course, I'm not going to be able to get rid of ALL the house flies, so I will keep my fly swatter (and dog) nearby.