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Vector Control

Vector: (L., "one who carries") A carrier, especially the animal that transfers an infective agent from one host to another.

Mosquito Surveillance Program

In 2008, the Escambia County Health Department established a Mosquito Surveillance Program. The components of the program include mosquito trapping in locations throughout the county, monitoring strategically placed sentinel chicken flocks to detect viruses carried by mosquitoes, providing free larvicide briquets to the public, and presenting educational mosquito awareness programs.

The Escambia County Health Department also works cooperatively with other county agencies to eliminate breeding sites and partners with the municipalities in the county to share surveillance information and resources thereby enhancing the effectiveness of mosquito control throughout the county.

If you are a resident of Escambia County, Alabama and have a small pond, ditch, or low area that holds water for several days after a rain, you can pick up Altosid briquets (larvicide) from either the Atmore Office or the Brewton Office. Application of these briquets to areas of standing water will prevent mosquito larvae from developing into biting adults. These larvicide briquets are distributed upon request to residents who are 18 and older, along with precautions and instructions for use.

Contact your local municipality or the Escambia County Commission for information concerning the Adulticiding Program, including spray truck routes and schedules.

Human Diseases Carried by Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes carry and transmit these serious diseases:

  • Malaria
  • Dengue
  • Yellow Fever
  • Encephalitis (Sleeping sickness)

Malaria, dengue, and yellow fever do not commonly occur in Alabama, but mosquito-born encephalitis does occur and can result in serious illness. Encephalitis can cause lasting brain damage, nervous system damage, and in some cases death. Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), St. Louis encephalitis (SLE), and LaCross encephalitis (LAC) have all been detected in Alabama. However, not all mosquitoes carry these viruses. Therefore, it is important to try and limit all mosquito exposures.

Learn more about West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

Mosquito Life Stages

Mosquitoes have 4 stages in their life cycle. All of these stages, except the adult stage, require water to develop.

  • Once deposited and exposed to water, mosquito eggs hatch into larvae in as few as 2-3 days.
  • Larvae, or "wigglers", appear as small, slender creatures which dart about in the water. This stage can last from 4 days to 2 weeks, depending on the food sources and water temperature.
  • Larvae then develop into pupae. Pupae, or "tumblers", look very much like small dark cocoons but are very mobile in the water.
  • After a short time, usually about 2 days, the adult mosquito emerges from the pupae. After drying its wings, the adult is ready to fly off in search of food.

The life cycle of some mosquitoes can be completed in 10 days. Only the female mosquito bites and feeds on humans and animals. The female needs the protein from the blood to produce the eggs. One female can produce 100-200 eggs per blood meal.

Mosquito Breeding Sites

Different types of mosquitoes prefer to deposit their eggs in different habitats. Some species prefer woodland depressions or grassy shorelines. Others prefer to deposit their eggs in and around neighborhoods. These are called ‘container breeders.’ They deposit their eggs in any type of container that will hold water. One water-filled can or bottle can be the hatching site for several thousand mosquitoes.

Stop Raising Mosquitoes in Your Yard

Below are some helpful tips on how to reduce potential breeding sites in your yard.

  • Dispose of unused containers that collect water such as old buckets, cans, bottles, or jars.
  • Repair leaky pipes and outside faucets, and keep drains and gutters unclogged so that water does not collect in these areas.
  • Change the water and scrub the sides of bird baths, animal troughs, and pet watering dishes at least once a week to eliminate mosquito eggs.
  • Properly discard unused tires, make holes in them, or store them in a covered area so that water cannot collect in them. Tires make excellent breeding sites.
  • Turn wheelbarrows, tubs, children’s wading pools, and boats upside down or store them under cover when not in use.
  • Keep weeds, vines, hedges, and grass trimmed since mosquitoes use these shady areas as resting places during hot daylight hours.
  • Fill tree holes with sand or mortar so that water does not collect in them. These holes are a favorite breeding spot for the mosquito that carries LaCross encephalitis.
  • Change water in vases and pots holding flowers or cuttings twice weekly.
  • Fill in holes or depressions in your yard where water tends to collect.

Reducing Mosquito Exposure

Keep in mind that mosquitoes are most active in the early mornings and early evenings around dusk. Staying indoors during these times is one way to eliminate exposures, but is not always practical. If this is not possible, take the following precautions:

  • Wear long sleeves and long pants when possible.
  • Wear loose fitting, light colored clothes to retain less heat, making you less attractive to mosquitoes.
  • Spray clothing with repellants containing premethrin or DEET (diethyl toluamide).
  • Apply inspect repellant sparingly on skin, avoiding the eyes, lips and nasal membranes.
  • Use concentrations of less than 10% when applying DEET products on children and avoid their hands.
  • Always follow label instructions when applying repellants.
  • Prevent mosquitoes from entering your home by keeping window and door screens in good repair.

Prevention Is Key

Take an active role in reducing your exposure to mosquitoes. Eliminate breeding sites before mosquitoes become a problem, and reduce your chances of being bitten by wearing protective clothing and repellants.

Page last updated: May 13, 2021