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Mosquitoes in Mississippi

Of all the insects that attack man and animals, mosquitoes are by far the most important. They are the only vectors of malaria, yellow fever and dengue to man. They also transmit heartworms in dogs and viral encephalitis in horses. Worldwide there are over 2,500 species of mosquitoes, with about 150 species in the U.S. Mississippi has approximately 60 species.

Mosquitoes are perhaps the most successful of all insects. They inhabit almost every habitat on earth; from the arctic circle to the tropics. They do not inhabit saltwater.

Mosquitoes are important because of their blood-feeding behavior. This makes them major nuisances as well as disease carriers. Only the females suck blood - the males are nectar feeders. The females need the protein in blood to produce viable eggs.

More money is spent on mosquito control than on control of any other insect. Large cities and tourist areas often have large-area control programs with full-time staffs. Smaller cities and towns most often have programs using personnel with other duties in addition to mosquito control. In Mississippi there are an estimated 200 mosquito control programs. A total cost of mosquito control is difficult to estimate, but in the U.S. approximately $1 billion is spent to prevent and control dog heartworms yearly.

The one thing all mosquitoes have in common is water. The female mosquito lays her eggs in water or in places where water will be eventually. Examples of the latter include low places which will become puddles after rain and containers which hold water after rain. The eggs hatch in water and the larvae and pupae develop in water. Mosquitoes are unusual in that they have an active pupal stage. In almost all insects the pupa is a "resting stage" and is totally inactive. The mosquito pupa regularly comes to the water surface to breathe. Their characteristic swimming movement has lead to their being called "tumblers" by many.

Mosquito control around the home can be frustrating. Many species of mosquitoes are good fliers, able to fly miles from their watery larval home. There is not much that can be done to control these species around an individual residence. Other species however, never fly far from the water source from which they emerged. Puddles and water-holding containers around the home can be managed so mosquitoes cannot breed. This is the best approach for the individual homeowner.



Calibration is getting the correct amount of insecticide over the correct area in the correct span of time. The part that we sometimes overlook is the speed of the vehicle. We are careful to calibrate our spray machine to deliver the correct number of ounces/minute and then don't worry about how fast the vehicle travels. You should not trust a speedometer to accurately read 15 mph without checking it.

At 15 mph a vehicle travels 1,320 feet in one (1) minute. In 10 seconds it travels 220 feet. Mark off a length of 220 feet using spray paint or flags. Drive the vehicle over the marked course at a steady speed with the speedometer reading 15 mph. A helper, either in or outside the vehicle, can time the event with the second hand of a watch. If the course was covered in less than 10 seconds, slow down; if more than 10 seconds, speed up. This should be done a few times just to be sure of the results. When the 220 feet is traveled in 10 seconds, the vehicle is going 15 mph regardless of what the speedometer reads. The driver should then maintain the indicated speedometer reading when treating for mosquitoes.


Electrocution Devices for insect control

Many homeowners purchase light traps with electric grids, commonly called bug-zappers, to rid their property of mosquitoes and other biting insects flies. The constant snaps, crackles and pops confirm in the homeowners minds that the devices are working. There is more to the story however. Almost all of the insects killed are harmless, most being beetles and moths. A recent study done at the University of Delaware has finally yielded some hard data on the use of "zappers".

Over a ten (10) week study during the summer of 1996 ten (10) "bug-zappers" killed a total of 13,789 insects. All were collected from the devices and identified.

Of the 13,789 insects, there were eighteen (18) female mosquitoes; twelve (12) biting midges (no-see-ums); and one (1) black fly. This is a total of 31 biting insects out of 13,789 or 0.22%.

There is no reason to believe the Delaware results are any different than what occurs in Mississippi. These devices are basically a waste of money, time and energy. Homeowners should be so advised


Which Product To Buy?

Many cities and towns are using products containing permethrin for their mosquito control programs. This is a good choice for both control effectiveness and cost. There are three (3) suppliers of permethrin products for mosquito control and all their products are equally effective when used as directed. There are a number of different concentrations of permethrin offered by these suppliers and comparing price can be confusing. There is an easy way to compare prices - so let's learn how.

Consider the following four (4) products (prices are not current):

Active Ingredients Bid price - $240/gallon
Permethrin 31%
PBO 66%
Inert Ingredients 3%

This product contains 2.86 pounds of Permethrin per gallon.


Active Ingredients Bid price - $214/gallon
Permethrin 30%
PBO 30%
Inert Ingredients 40%

This product contains 2.52 pounds of Permethrin per gallon.


Active Ingredients Bid price - $90/gallon
Permethrin 12%
PBO 60%
Inert Ingredients 28%

This product contains 1.0 pound of Permethrin per gallon.


Active Ingredients Bid price - $33/gallon
Permethrin 4%
PBO 4%
Inert Ingredients 92%

This product contains 0.3 pounds of Permethrin per gallon.

The above imaginary labels have the same information you will find on the front panel of all permethrin products you see. Since we want to purchase permethrin at the best price, lets compare the cost of the permethrin regardless of the concentration:

"KILLSEM 31-66" contains 2.86 pounds/gallon of permethrin and costs $240/gallon or, $83.92/pound of permethrin (240 ˜ 2.86).

"KILLSEM 30-30" contains 2.52 pounds/gallon of permethrin and costs $214/gallon or, $84.92/pound of pemethrin (214 ¸ 2.52).

"KILLSEM 12-60" contains 1.0 pound/gallon of permethrin and costs $90/gallon or, $90/pound of permethrin (90 ˜ 1).

"KILLSEM 4-4" contains 0.3 pounds/gallon of permethrin and costs $33/gallon or $110/pound of permethrin (33 ˜ 0.3).

You can see from the above that the "KILLSEM 31-66" is the most economical product. Most of the time, BUT NOT ALWAYS, the most concentrated product is the best buy.

Although the above products and prices are imaginary, the method works well when competing products have to be compared. This method can help you greatly when you are sorting through bids for several different permethrin products from suppliers.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can mosquitoes carry AIDS?
    No. The virus which causes AIDS can not survive in a mosquito or any arthropod.

  • Will installing an electrocution device on my patio help control mosquitoes?
    No. Mosquitoes are not attracted to the devices.