Controlling mosquito populations and reducing the risk for West Nile virus, Zika Virus and Chikungunya Viruses must be done on several fronts—education and prevention are at the forefront of those efforts. As we head into mosquito season, it’s imperative that residents take steps to protect themselves and control mosquito populations at home.
While mosquito “season” typically runs from April through September, like many D/FW cities, Hurst has already ramped up our efforts to monitor and control mosquitoes. The city participates in the Tarrant County Mosquito Surveillance Program and will use 7 static testing sites each week and 1 roaming test site around the city each week this year—up from 2 roaming sites only in previous years.
The City of Hurst will only spray if a positive sample is received from the Tarrant County Health Department and is limited to a ¼ mile radius around the positive site. The city’s primary defense in combating mosquitoes will be our larvicide program. It has proven to be a more effective method for treating mosquito-prone areas than spraying, without causing any harmful effects to people. We use this to treat public areas. If you need larvicide donuts they are available at Mr. C’s Ace Hardware and Lowes Home Improvement and in the Wal-Mart Lawn & Garden Department. All three stores are located in Hurst on Precinct Line Road. In addition to purchasing, larvacide donuts are offered for free in limited quantities during our Household Hazardous Waste collection events held in January, April, July and October.
If requested, city crews will treat a given location with the larvacide briquettes — especially vacant houses with a pool or other areas of common standing water. To report a concern or to have your area added to the list for crews to set out the roaming trap, call the city's Environmental Services at 817.788.7217 or 817.788.7237. Requests can also be made through the mosquito control program manager at 817.788.7217 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mosquito control methods
The city of Hurst uses larvicides to kill mosquito larvae. Larvicides include biological insecticides, such as the microbial larvicides Bacillus sphaericus and Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis. Larvicides include other pesticides, such as temephos, methoprene, oils, and monomolecular films. Larvicide treatment of breeding habitats help reduce the adult mosquito population in nearby areas. Typically, the city uses the bacillus thuringiensis israelensis microbial larvicide, which has been effective in treating mosquito's larvae before they hatch. Information on larvicides is available on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's website.
Ground spraying (adulticiding)
Adulticiding is a process of reducing the population of adult mosquitoes with the use of insecticides. This is usually conducted using ground equipment. Most cities use Permethrin or a derivative of Permethrin in ground spraying efforts. Permethrin is a common synthetic chemical, widely used as an insecticide, acaricide, and insect repellent. It belongs to the family of synthetic chemicals called pyrethroids and functions as a neurotoxin, affecting neuron membranes by prolonging sodium channel activation.
* For public health use, permethrin is the most widely used mosquito adulticide in the United States because of its low cost, high efficacy, and low incidence of pest resistance. In residential uses, where there may be a potential for ecological effects due to urban runoff, the EPA intends to identify steps which can be taken to allow a greater understanding of potential ecological risk from urban uses of pyrethroid as a whole during registration review. *Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
North Texas cities that opt for aerial spraying typically use a product called Duet, a public health mosquito control product. It has two active ingredients: Sumithrin and Prallethrin. Duet was registered by the U.S. EPA for use for public health applications in 1995 to help control adult mosquito populations.
Mosquito Control Around the Home
The most important thing citizens can do to reduce the risk of exposure to West Nile virus is to eliminate mosquito-breeding areas around the home and limit exposure to feeding mosquitoes. Many female mosquitoes can lay 100-300 eggs on the surface of fresh or stagnant water every third night during its life span. Here are some simple things citizens can do to eliminate potential mosquito breeding sites around the home:
- Do not allow water to accumulate in the saucers of flowerpots, cemetery urns, or in pet dishes for more than two days
- Get rid of tin cans, old tires, buckets, unused plastic swimming pools, or other containers that collect and hold water
- Clean debris from rain gutters, remove standing water from flat roofs, and repair leaks around faucets and air conditioners
- Change the water in birdbaths and wading pools at least once a week
- Fill or drain puddles, ditches and swampy areas
- Check for trapped water in plastic or canvas tarps used to cover boats or pools, and arrange the tarp to drain the water
West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne illness. Up to 80 percent of people infected with West Nile virus will have no symptoms and will recover on their own; however, some cases can cause serious illness or death. People over 50 and those with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of becoming ill if they become infected with the virus.
- The best defense is to practice these habits, known as the "Four Ds":
- Use insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
- Dress in long sleeves and long pants when you are outside.
- Stay indoors at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
- Drain standing water where mosquitoes breed. Common breeding sites include old tires, flowerpots and clogged rain gutters.
To learn more about West Nile virus, see the Texas Department of State Health Services fact sheet.