As the warmer weather rolls in and summer begins, so does mosquito season. The City of Plano Environmental Health and Sustainability (EHS) team has already begun taking proactive measures to protect Plano residents from mosquitoes. The City has begun what is called “larviciding” which is the process of placing insecticide in strategically-targeted locations around Plano that have a higher potential for mosquitoes and places for them to breed.
How does the City determine which locations to larvicide? The vector control team can look back at records to see which surveillance locations had higher numbers of mosquitoes in previous years. They also target areas that are known for having standing water such as low lying ditches, areas high in organic matter and areas near creeks and streams. Storms also produce puddles of water that can sit for long periods of time. Teams will larvicide these areas of stagnant water when they are at risk of becoming a breeding location. By larviciding these areas now, they hope to disrupt popular places that mosquitoes are likely to breed and hatch.
What does the City use to larvicide? The vector control team uses a larvicide called Natular. Natular is a green-friendly pesticide commonly used to control mosquito populations. In 2010, Natular earned the EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award. This award recognizes outstanding chemical technologies that incorporate the principles of green chemistry into chemical design, manufacturing and use that achieve pollution prevention goals.
Did you know that mosquitoes have receptors that detect carbon dioxide (CO2) and skin odor? The vector control team gathers mosquito data by setting traps. One type of trap uses dry ice which contains CO2 to simulate a person’s breath to lure mosquitoes. The trap also contains a light source which further aids in attracting them. A gravid trap is another type that uses a liquid attractant and a fan to draw the mosquito into the trap. Once the team collects these mosquito traps, they’re sent to the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) in Austin, Texas to be tested for disease. The City will continue to set light traps with CO2 and gravid traps each week, as long as weather permits, from April until the end of October.
If a mosquito does come back positive for infection, the TDSHS will notify the City. If necessary, vector control teams will use an Ultra Low Volume (ULV) fumigation method in a targeted location from where the infected mosquito was trapped. Most mosquitoes don’t travel very far. The Asian Tiger Mosquito has a flight range of only around 300 feet while other mosquito species have a flight range of under 3 miles.
Below are some simple ways to battle the buzz this summer:
DRESS – Mosquitoes are less attracted to light-colored clothing. Long sleeves and pants will help to keep you from getting bit. For extra protection, spray clothing with mosquito repellent.
DEET – Try to use insect repellent that contains DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) to increase protection. This Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved ingredient is known to provide a better defense against mosquitoes. Other natural alternatives include lemon eucalyptus oil, lavender and citronella. Be sure to always follow label instructions when applying repellent.
DRAIN – Help limit the number of places for mosquitoes to breed by draining standing water around your yard and neighborhood. Common places that collect water around the house include trash carts, old tires, flower pots, rain gutters and bird baths. If you have pets, be sure to refresh and replenish their water bowl(s). Pool owners are encouraged to maintain their pool properly to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
If you have questions or concerns, you may contact the City of Plano Environmental Health Department at email@example.com or call 972-941-7143. To get notified about mosquito sprays in your neighborhood, visit Plano.gov/CityCall to get alerts.