Mosquito Awareness Week: Control Measures
The average mosquito lives for only 21 days, but in that time, can lay between 560 to 700 eggs, at a rate of 80 to 100 every three days.
Given the danger they pose to health in the form of diseases like malaria, dengue, zika and chikungunya, it is important for residents to play their part in controlling the population.
Since 1999, about 65 people in Barbados have died from dengue and they pose the greatest threat to people in the 15 to 55 age group.
Mosquitoes are now breeding faster than before because of climate change. There is no set rainy season in Barbados, so the pests are breeding year-round. They also breed faster in rain water, which does not contain chlorine, unlike piped water.
The following are some measures to control the growth of the mosquito population.
This includes the use of agents like kerosene oil, fogging, bleach, diesel oil and insecticides. When using insecticides, close the house, spray from one end of the house to another. Avoid breathing in the vapour, leave the house for several hours and allow the insecticide to work. Those mosquitoes which escape the spray develop a type of immunity, so it is advised to change the use a different insecticide in a four-month cycle before going back to the original.
The guttering on the roof should not be at 180 degrees because it is flat. If there are trees nearby and leaves get in, this could trap the water, causing mosquitoes to breed. The guttering should be at a gradient which allows the water to drain.
If you keep plant pots in the home, avoid wetting them with water. This is because excess water drains into the saucer and then creates a mossy line (meniscus) forming around the plant pot. The Aedes Aegypti mosquito looks for this and lay eggs there. They can remain there for two to three years without water in ideal conditions (where the plant is constantly being wet) and in a cool place before hatching. The recommendation is to use ice cubes to the plant so they drain slowly and do not flood the soil. There is no excess water, so the meniscus line can’t form.
This involves the use of larvivorous fish (which eat the mosquito larvae) and mosquito dunks which can be used in tanks or where there is water settling to control larvae.
The Vector Control Unit of the Ministry of Health is breeding thousands of larvivorous fish at its facility at Graeme Hall, Christ Church, and members of the public can contact the Unit about sourcing this fish.
Householders and residents are urged to play their part in reducing the breeding sites for mosquitoes. These include old appliances like fridges and stoves, shoes strewn over the power lines, sno cone cups, coconut and Styrofoam containers are all breeding sites. That is why the proper disposal of garbage and other waste material is essential.
Officers at the Vector Control have the power to cite householders for breeding mosquitoes on their property. According to a local health official, if the case goes to court, the magistrate has the option of a fine up to $5 000 and or 12 months in prison. If the offence is not rectified, the homeowner can be fined $200 for every day it continues. More information can be found under the Health Services Mosquito 1970 regulation.
This takes the form of officers from the Vector Control Unit speaking to members of the public, youth groups or schools about the mosquito and how it can be controlled. They also employ ovi-trapping to get a better handle on the level of infestation in some areas.
There are about 320 wetlands in Barbados, including Graeme Hall Swamp; Limegrove, St James and Oldbury and Three Houses in St Philip where officers test for larvae.
Vector Control Unit
In addition to the work with mosquitoes, the Unit also helps in the fight with flies and rodents. Officers are required to be on hand when containers arrive in the island to inspect tyres and wood which enter the island. (Nation Online)