Stay dry to stop mosquitoes this summer

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Greg Baumann
Greg Baumann

Not only has summer brought along its signature heat, but the season also has dumped heavy rainfall in many regions across the country. The resulting weather has been good news for mosquitoes, and bad news for facility managers who may hear the high-pitched buzzing of a mosquito infestation closing in, especially in parking areas, outside picnic areas and recreational areas.

Mosquitoes can cause serious problems at healthcare facilities. While not always painful, a mosquito bite will usually create bumps. These bumps produce mild to severe itching in many people, while others may develop more severe allergic, even asthma-like reactions. Only female mosquitoes bite, as they need a blood meal to lay their eggs.

Mosquitoes can also carry diseases like yellow and dengue fevers, malaria and encephalitis, and are capable of passing them from one host to another.

Before mosquitoes develop into bloodsucking menaces, they start out as eggs and larvae. Female mosquitoes typically lay their eggs in some form of water or an area that floods. While some mosquito infestations are a result of poor facility maintenance or construction, most are created from a source of water nearby.

Manmade sources of standing water like bird baths, buckets and even mud puddles can serve as a breeding ground. Without the right care, standing water can pool up around several areas in your facility.

This is where Integrated Pest Management (IPM) comes in. Instead of reacting to pests with chemical applications (which are difficult with mosquitoes), IPM focuses on proactive treatments around your facility to keep pests from becoming a problem.

First, take a look around your property. Remove any standing water that may have collected in parking lots and landscaped areas. Look to higher ground, too, as roofs can provide an open, often unchecked door to mosquitoes and other pests like nuisance birds.

Regularly inspect your roof and rooftop HVAC units for any openings, puddles and evidence of mosquitoes or their larvae. Eliminate puddles of water left after rain showers or caused by leaky HVAC units to reduce the likelihood of rooftop mosquito activity. While mosquitoes are not going to infest the building, having these insects just outside can create quite a nuisance.

To keep mosquitoes from getting into your facility, implement the same IPM tactics used for fly control. Caulk any cracks or crevices around the exterior of your building and seal all doors and windows with weather stripping. Additionally, install correctly fitting door sweeps to help keep mosquitoes and other pests out. At building entrances, have air curtains installed to keep out flying pests. Work with an HVAC professional to make sure the air is blowing out, not into, your entrances.

Follow these IPM tactics and talk with a pest management professional about managing mosquitoes and other pests around your property.

Greg Baumann is vice president of training and technical Service for Orkin. He can be reached at gbaumann@rollins.com .

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