Who Wouldn’t Want a Mosquito Free Year?

The holidays are officially here. The lights on the malls are on and radio stations have started playing Christmas music. Do you know what that means? It’s time for Christmas shopping. If you’re like me, this is something that fills you both with excitement and dread. Excitement because I like giving my loved ones gifts, dread because there is always someone I have a hard time buying for.

If you have that hard to buy for person on your list too, I have a gift idea for your: a mosquito-free 2015.

Yes, it’s an out-of-the-box idea, but it’s also sure to please. With a Mosquito Squad gift certificate for service, you can let your friends or family enjoy the spring and summer outside without bites.

Mosquito Squad provides continuous mosquito protection throughout the year with our traditional season-long package. Every three weeks, trained technicians visit the property and spray the areas of your property where mosquitoes are their most active. That spray eliminates mosquitoes and tick on contact.

How does the spray last three weeks you ask? The spray settles on the vegetation it is sprayed on. Mosquitoes feed on plant sugars (female mosquitoes only suck blood for protein to lay eggs). When they try to feed on the plants, they ingest the treatment, eliminating them. The spray has a component in it that makes it last despite the weather, but after 21 days, it does need to be reapplied.

If you’re interested in giving a Mosquito Squad gift certificate to a friend or family member this holiday season, contact the local office in the recipient’s area. Our team will simply need the address and idea of the size of the property to give you a quote. Or, you can give a dollar amount!

We hope that we made your gift giving a little bit easier with this idea. Have a very Happy Thanksgiving this week!

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Stinkbugs Spread to 41 States

For some homeowners, it seems like the brown marmorated stinkbug takes over their home in the fall months. They make their way inside for the winter, sometimes in swarms. It’s hard to imagine that the stinkbug didn’t come into the United States until the 1990s. In just 20 years, they have spread their populations widely, now being noticed in 41 states.

More concerns arise as the stinkbugs move west (they’re most invasive on the east coast). Tracy Leskey, entomologist with the United States Department of Agriculture, explain that “it’s a big concern. Sacramento is in the heart of a lot of big-time agriculture.” (Source.) Stinkbugs have recently been spotted in Sacramento, CA and Portland, OR. Farmers are now worried because the pests often feed on local crops.

Looking at study information, it’s not surprising that stinkbugs have gone from coast to coast so quickly. Leskey explains that the typical bug flies up to 3 miles a day, but some has been noticed flying up to 75 miles in just one day!

Wasps are the stinkbug’s most common parasite in its native Asia, but they haven’t made their way to the United States. Kim Hoelmer, acting director of the USDA’s Overseas Biological Control Laboratories, says “it may be a while before we can set an army of foreign wasps on stinkbugs in the U.S.” (Source.) There just isn’t enough research, yet.

While stinkbugs thrive in the United States, Mosquito Squad has helped many homeowners fight the battle against these pests at home. Our trained team applies a spray to the areas of the home and property that stinkbugs are known to harbor or enter the home, eliminating them.

This is the time of the year when stinkbugs look to make their way inside. If you are noticing stinkbugs on your property, please contact your local Mosquito Squad office.

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Bill Gates Makes Stand for Malaria Eradication

Bill Gates has long been a supporter of malaria eradication and research, but in a recent speech at Association of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene he once again brought it back into the spotlight.

Melinda and Bill Gates made their first call for malaria eradication 7 years ago alongside the World Health Organization. Since then, the Gates Foundation has made large donations to help the cause while spreading the word through speeches, blogs, etc. (don’t you remember when Gates released mosquitoes during a speech in 2009?).

While Gates addressed ebola (which is on everyone’s mind) in his speech at ASTMH, the majority of his time was spent discussing malaria because of his hope for the future. He explains in his blog that “based on the progress I’m seeing in the lab and on the ground, I believe we’re now in a position to eradicate malaria – that is, wipe it out completely in every country – within a generation.” Source.

Because of their optimism, the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation is increasing its donation to the malaria cause by 30%.

What many people don’t realize, is that malaria was an issue in the majority of the world not too long ago. It wasn’t eradicated from the United States until the 1950s, and that is without the knowledge and science that we have now. This video from Bill Gates’ blog is a great representation of where the disease was, where it is now, and where we’re going:

Mosquito Squad is a proud supporter of Malaria No More. We’re dedicated to seeing an end to malaria deaths and we’re seeing great progress. In the four short years we’re partnered with Malaria No More, we’ve seen the number of deaths in Africa decrease by 50%!

Malaria No More helps fight malaria by providing prevention, treatment and education to the areas of Africa most affected by this disease. Please help us in the fight by donating to Malaria No More at SwatMalaria.net.

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Do Mosquitoes Transmit Ebola?

Unless you’ve stayed away from all news for the last few weeks (and who really can do that), you’ve heard about the current Ebola epidemic in Africa and cases in the U.S. Ebola is a life threatening disease that currently doesn’t have a vaccine to fight it. One question we’ve been asked recently is can mosquitoes, who transmit numerous disease worldwide, infect people with Ebola?

In short, the answer is no.

2bMosquitoes aren’t born with malaria, yellow fever, chikungunya, dengue fever or other mosquito-borne disease. Female mosquitoes become carriers of those diseases after feeding on a person or animal already infected (only females suck blood). Because mosquitoes don’t go person to person biting, the disease has to survive a complicated digestion process to be passed on.

The reason female mosquitoes require blood is to create eggs. A female mosquito will take in enough blood to properly nourish her eggs and then go and digest. After laying her eggs, she will then require more blood. For her to infect a human with the disease, the viral strands need to stay in the gut and migrate into the mosquito’s saliva. The mosquito injects saliva into its victims as they bite. In the case of malaria, it evolves in the mosquito before getting into the saliva.

Right now, Ebola cannot make its way into the mosquito saliva. And until it can, mosquitoes cannot transmit Ebola.

Despite not playing an active role in the spread of Ebola, mosquitoes are still the most dangerous animal on the planet, killing over 700,000 people each year. They kill approximately 600,000 by infecting them with malaria. While malaria isn’t a threat in the United States, mosquitoes still transmit west nile, dengue fever and chikungunya domestically.

At Mosquito Squad, we protect our clients by greatly reducing their property’s mosquito population with our mosquito control services. Our trained applicators visit our clients’ properties every 2-3 weeks and spray the areas where mosquitoes are most likely to feed and live, like bushes and trees. The spray eliminates mosquitoes on contact as well as settles on the vegetation. When a mosquito then goes to feed on a leaf, it will ingest the product.

If you have questions on how to protect your property from mosquitoes, please contact your local Mosquito Squad office.

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A Robot that Fights Malaria?

Malaria, as we’ve discussed before, is a terrible mosquito-borne disease that kills over 600,000 people every year, yet it is both preventable and treatable. While health officials and non-profits like Malaria No More are helping to fight the battle against malaria, a Dallas tween is doing the same thing with a new invention.

An underwater army of Culex larvae, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

An underwater army of Culex mosquito larvae, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

David Cohen is a Texas based 12 year old who is a finalist in this year’s Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge for a robot that helps fight malaria.

Mosquitoes (whether they are carrying malaria or not) need water to breed. During their larval stage, they sit on the surface of the water to breathe and to continue the maturation process. Cohen’s robot stops them from further maturing by reaching them in this stage. Using a pump-jet system, the robot essentially drowns the mosquito by moving it away from the surface and trapping it under mesh.

Cohen first became aware of health issues that mosquitoes can cause after his sister had a staph infection after itching a mosquito bite.

Matched with his mentor Delong Langer-Anderson, Cohen began to look at how best to stop mosquito-borne illnesses from spreading. As Langer-Anderson explains: he “looked at the problem…in a different way. He asked ‘what if the mosquito was never born?’ …he’s never lost sight of the idea that if he can stop the mosquito from emerging from the larvae stage, he can prevent them from spreading disease.” Source.

Dread Skeeter and the whole Mosquito Squad is happy to support Malaria No More in their fight to end malaria deaths in Africa

Dread Skeeter and the whole Mosquito Squad is happy to support Malaria No More in their fight to end malaria deaths in Africa

While we’re not sure how Cohen’s robot will be used moving forward, we at Mosquito Squad are always happy to see people thinking up unique ways to decrease the spread of malaria and other mosquito-borne illnesses. Congrats David!

Mosquito Squad joined the fight against malaria several years ago through our partnership with Malaria No More. Malaria No More has made great strides in helping to end malaria deaths through its educational, prevention and treatment programs.

If you’d like us to help fight malaria, please donate now at SwatMalaria.net.

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Stink Bugs Looking for a Place to Enter the Home

Stink Bugs

Stink bugs move inside for warmth, and they come with friends.

Last weekend, I was watching a movie with my husband when I heard a loud buzzing, one that I’ve become all too familiar with the last few years: the stink bug. Just like falling leaves and cooler temperatures, seeing stink bugs inside is another sign that fall is coming.

Stink bugs, or brown marmorated stink bugs, have been  active pests in the United States since they were first noticed in Pennsylvania sixteen years ago. Three or four years ago their population boomed, wreaking havoc on some crops they were hungry for.

The stink bug population has grown considerably in the U.S. because it doesn’t have a natural predator here that helps to control the growing numbers. Its largest predator in China, a type of wasp, isn’t currently present in the U.S., but is going through testing to see if it is a viable option for future control.

As the weather turns cooler, and fall crops begin to be harvested, stink bugs start to get sneaky! They can find their way into homes using the smallest of openings. If you live in an area where stink bugs are active, you’ll want to double check that there aren’t openings around your door frame or holes in your screens to ensure they don’t make their way into your home. They will find the smallest of holes! A recent study that we covered in a previous blog pointed out that stink bugs are more attracted to brown and green properties more than light-colored homes.

If stink bugs make it inside your home, you want to make sure you handle it correctly or they will use their defenses. Their main defense you may be able to tell from their name. They stink. They emit an odor when they are threatened. You never want to handle a stink bug with your hand for instance, instead:

  • Use a vacuum to suck up and remove the stink bug. A bag vacuum works better.
  • Using a tissue, pick up the bug and flush it down the toilet. Stink bugs are surprisingly slow moving when they aren’t flying.

There are stink bug treatments available that are applied to the outside of the home that will greatly reduce your pest populations. Call your local Mosquito Squad office to see if they can help you in the battle of the stink bugs.

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Protecting your Dog from the Dangers of Ticks

When you think of ticks, what do you think? Gross? Definitely. Hard to see and detect? You bet. Lyme disease? Absolutely? Paralysis? Probably not. These little buggers can be very dangerous to our beloved pets, and it isn’t just Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis, they can cause paralysis too.

IMG_4126My mother and I are dog lovers. That’s my man, Wiley, to the right. I’m a sucker for his ears, but I digress. Recently my mom was telling me about a friend who has a dog. Their dog Buster had always been healthy and active, but in a matter of just 5 weeks had lost nearly 30 pounds and wouldn’t go on walks. After several tests and visits to the vet, they found the culprit. Ticks. The poor pup had 3 or 4 ticks under his armpit, a very difficult spot to see and check. They were causing the issues.

Ticks, when they aren’t noticed and removed quickly can cause paralysis in dogs, and sometimes even humans. Some ticks carry a toxin that is released into their host while feeding. That toxin affects movement control.

It’s important that dog owners thoroughly check their dogs for ticks after spending time in areas where ticks are known to live. The toxin may be released after 3 days of attachment. Luckily, when the tick is removed, the symptoms of paralysis will subside. Buster recovered quickly and is back to his normal self.

Ticks checks are an important piece of protecting your pet from tick-borne disease. To check your dog, pet it slowly while applying more pressure than normal. Many times, you will feel a bump that you can then look closely at. Make sure to check their elbows, inside of their legs and in between toes. Those are often ticks favorite hiding spot on a dog.

At Mosquito Squad, we protect pets with our effective tick control. Our tick services include a combination of our barrier spray treatment and tick tubes. The spray eliminates ticks on contact while the tubes get them earlier in their lifecycle.

If you’d like to discuss reducing the number of ticks on your property, please contact your local Mosquito Squad office.

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