Mosquitoes are a constant battle in Iowa. Our public works employee and certified sprayer tasked with fighting off Carlisle’s mosquitoes, Tony, want to provide some information on mosquitoes and what Carlisle does to combat them.
Mosquitoes are a midge-like fly common throughout the world. After a meal of blood, a female mosquito will lay eggs on the surface of water. A mosquito will lay eggs in batches between 50 and 400. The time it takes for a mosquito to hatch to being able to bite is between 12 and 18 days in Iowa. Once mature, males can live for around 10 days while females can live for between 42 and 56 days. There are around 40 species of mosquitoes that are present in Iowa. With this, there is some variance in the types and characteristics. Some stay within 1 mile of their breeding area while others travel up to 10 miles away. Many mosquito species are active around dusk. Due to this, most spraying is done on Thursday nights to prepare for the weekend when many of our citizens are more active outside.
Carlisle’s fogging unit is an ultra low volume (ULV) cold fogging unit. The fogger is equipped with a motor that produces a high power, low pressure air stream. The fogging liquid is pumped into a special nozzle that is oriented to give the air flow a swirling motion. The motor creates a high pressure that forces the fogging liquid through the nozzle. This separates the liquid into tiny particles and comes out of the nozzle as a fog or fine mist. The particle produced by this process is around 20 microns in size. For comparison, a human hair is around 70 microns in size. The nozzle can be adjusted to a precise size of particle. This allows cold foggers to be used for different applications, something Carlisle has needed to do. It also allows for lower quantities of insecticides which helps minimize risks to the environment. We have also utilized aerial spraying. Potential of aerial application is reviewed on a yearly basis to ensure maximum effectiveness is provided in a fiscally responsible manner.
Carlisle sprays for mosquitoes on a rotating schedule of every other Thursday. For the 2019 season, the rotation started on Thursday, May 30. This means scheduled days for spraying are June 13, June 27, July 11, July 25, August 8, and August 22. Dates are subject to change at the discretion of the City due to proper spraying circumstances. This is usually dictated by weather.
In 2018 and 2019, Carlisle also took the additional step of aerial pre-hatch control. This involves a helicopter or airplane dropping pre-hatch mosquito killer in targeted areas. This attempts to destroy the mosquito at the larva stage of its life.
Ways Citizens Can Help Combat Mosquitoes
With Carlisle being near so many rivers, some of the biggest ways to combat the mosquito population is by removing as many other chances for breeding spots as possible. One simple way is by removing stagnant standing water in places like birdbaths. Keeping other items that can collect water, like tires, picked up and stored out of the weather also helps cut down on the population.
Encouraging mosquitoes predators
Carlisle’s City Motto is “The Natural Choice.” There are several “natural” things you can personally do to combat mosquitoes. Ensuring there is habitat for bats and birds like swallows or migratory songbirds, all-natural predators of mosquitoes, can also help. I also learned while becoming a Master Gardener that many plants have mosquito repelling properties. These include citronella grass, marigolds, geraniums, common lantana, lavender, and catnip. They can add some nice foliage or a pop of color to a yard. Several edible plants have mosquito repellant properties including garlic, basil, peppermint, sage, or rosemary. One of my favorite mosquito repelling plants is lemon balm. It is an ornamental plant that is used to attract pollinators, add some interesting flavor to a cooked dish (add at end), used for its fragrance, and has been used as an alternative medicine to help with sleep and digestion. It is definitely a Natural Choice!