By Kaylyn Cullen
“Mosquito Control Districts use a variety of tools to help keep their constituents safe. One of the most important ways for mosquito professionals to know when to spray insecticide is by using mosquito surveillance. At Beach Mosquito Control, our mosquito surveillance department uses several different types of mosquito traps, as well as a sentinel chicken program to help us with our operations-related decision-making.
Most people are surprised to hear that we use chickens as part of mosquito-borne disease monitoring. They can be thought of as a canary in a coal mine for illnesses like West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Once a week we take blood samples from our chickens, and we ship them to a state lab. If a chicken has been bitten by an infected mosquito, they will test positive for antibodies of that virus. This is a great tool to see when and where diseased mosquitoes are active in our district.
Another big part of our surveillance program is our mosquito traps. We have 22 “primary” mosquito traps that we run twice a week, and 13 “gravid” traps that are run once a week, so in total we go through 55 mosquito traps every week! We use the primary traps to collect a variety of species of mosquitoes, in different types of habitats. The gravid traps are used to specifically target female mosquitoes that are ready to lay eggs. Once we collect the traps, the surveillance team then counts and identifies the mosquitoes to species. Then we can run tests on some of the mosquitoes to see if there is any virus activity in the mosquitoes we caught.”
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