In the House & Home Mosquito Preparedness II
Jared invites Summit Responsible Solutions Marketing Director, Bill Stengel on air with In the House to talk about mosquitos and what you can do to protect against the Zika virus in your home.
Jared: We have seen a huge amount of publicity in the news about the Zika virus and mosquitos recently. It’s a really big deal throughout the world right now, but Florida has more than its fair share of mosquitos. Bill, I’d like you to tell us a little about Summit Responsible Solutions and give us some background on the Zika virus. Then we can talk about how to go about protecting ourselves from it and those pesky mosquitos.
Bill: Well, Summit Responsible Solutions is located in Baltimore where we manufacture biological mosquito control products. We’re best known for one called Mosquito Dunks®, which are a little beige doughnut-looking product that you place in standing water – where mosquitos reproduce – to kill their larvae. The Zika virus is carried by one particular type of mosquito, Aedes aegypti, often referred to as the “cockroach of mosquitos” because it’s a very aggressive species of mosquito and acclimatized to humans. In countries where they don’t have air conditioning, window screening, or other kinds of pest protection, these mosquitos have become a very serious problem. There is currently no vaccine for the Zika virus and it has been linked to a couple of other diseases, including microcephaly, which effects unborn babies by preventing development of their heads and brains. So the virus is particularly dangerous to women that are either currently pregnant or planning to get pregnant.
Jared: Even though you mentioned these mosquitos being a big problem in countries where A/C and window screens aren’t common, we also have reason to be concerned here in the United States where there have been multiple cases of people infected with the Zika virus. But there are things that people can do around their own homes to help prevent the spread of this, right?
Bill: Absolutely! For one, homeowners should be vigilant about removing as much standing water from their property as possible because mosquitos cannot reproduce without it. This specific mosquito that carries the virus requires only a bottle cap’s worth of standing water and primarily reproduces close to households because it is not a strong flyer, so it breeds and lives close to its food source – us. In fact, they are also referred to as “container breeders” since they like to reproduce in those little crevices that fill with water, such as toys laying in the backyard.
Jared: I didn’t realize that they only require such a tiny amount of water! When I hear standing water, what comes to my mind are large pools, ponds, bird baths and such.
Bill: Exactly, so people need to be vigilant about combing their yards for those small spaces where water collects. But for those areas where you can’t remove standing water – ponds, bird baths, fountains – that’s where you use a product like Mosquito Dunks®. When placed in water it slowly releases a bacteria called Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) which is lethal to mosquito larvae and completely harmless to everything else. This is a naturally occurring bacteria found in the soil everywhere, but it was officially discovered in Israel about 40 years ago. Scientists doing research on mosquitos discovered that there was a particular pool of standing water where mosquitos were not breeding and after closer investigation they found this Bacillus was the reason. There have been many other Bacillus pest control products used frequently in agriculture over the years designed to target specific insects. Bti is what’s known as a larvicide, targeting and terminating the mosquitos larvae stage as they filter the water they swim around in for food. Once the larvae ingests the bacteria it prevents them from feeding and they quickly starve to death.
Jared: What about those areas in the yard that aren’t really self-contained but still pool water for extended times after heavy rain fall? Is there a different product that Summit manufactures specifically for those?
Bill: Actually, yes, we do have a secondary product called Mosquito Bits® that are a granular form of the same Bti for those harder to treat areas. For instance, you may have some deep tires tracks in your yard that often fill with water and the size and configuration of them make the Mosquito Dunks® less than effective. Instead you can just sprinkle the Mosquito Bits® into the water – any larvae will consume the Bti and die. Other than the shape of the products, the big difference is that Mosquito Dunks® work for 30 days or more while Mosquito Bits® have about a 7-day lifespan, so you’ll need to reapply those more frequently. Between these two options homeowners should be able to easily protect their home and loved ones from the annoyance and dangers of mosquitos.
Jared: In addition to preventing mosquitos from breeding around your home, I would also recommend getting a DynaTrap® by Dynamic Solutions to lure and catch adult mosquitos and other flying pests as opposed to those noisy, messy bug zappers. In the House’s very own Josh Smith had the opportunity to test out a couple of them; read about his experience at our blog, DynaTrap & Mosquito Safety or Universal Roof & Contracting’s August Newsletter.
For more information on Mosquito Dunks® and Mosquito Bits®, visit Summit’s website; both products are available at hardware stores, home & garden centers and various online retailers.
Listen to "In the House with Ken & Jared" on WDBO’s News Talk FM96.5, and get more home tips and radio show info at the In the House Show website. For a free inspection and free estimate for your next Roof Repair, Roof Replacement, Siding or Home Improvement project, contact us or call now: 407-295-7403