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First 'Texas Mosquito Management' manual readies municipalities for spring mosquito onslaught
By Steve Byrns, Texas A&M
May 6, 2014
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COLLEGE STATION – Professionals tasked with public health protection now have a new resource to help control disease-carrying mosquitoes thanks to a team of Texas entomologists.

“The 66-page ‘Texas Mosquito Management’ manual is the first ever published on our state’s most notorious disease vector,” said Dr. Charles Allen of San Angelo. Allen is Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s entomology program leader, statewide integrated pest management coordinator and associate department head of Texas A&M University’s entomology department.

“This manual differs from most of AgriLife Extension’s publications in that it’s not a casual read for the general public,”Allen said. “It was prompted by the 2012 mosquito-borne West Nile Virus outbreak, which revealed a crucial need for a single-source battle plan that could be easily understood and quickly implemented. The full-color manual is specifically designed to equip city and county public health professionals with the knowledge they need to prevent mosquito outbreaks and respond quickly and effectively to outbreaks that do occur.”

The manual is available from the AgriLife Extension Bookstore, http://www.agrilifebookstore.org/, for $20 per copy.

Allen said the manual is based on proven integrated pest management techniques that combine various strategies to reduce disease-carrying mosquito numbers in the most cost effective, environmentally friendly way possible.

“Mosquitoes are best controlled during their immature stages, before they can bite and transmit diseases,” he said. “So an entire chapter has been devoted to larval control. Other chapters include basic mosquito biology with emphasis on the various diseases the insects transmit; mosquito identification including a taxonomic key to the 27 most important mosquito species in Texas; and various surveillance strategies needed to monitor possible problem areas before troubles arise.”

Allen said other topics covered include the most effective mosquito management regimes for both adult and juvenile mosquitoes, virus screening, public education strategies, personal protection and how to start an integrated mosquito management program. There are also appendices with mosquito biological data and pesticide applicator record-keeping requirements; a glossary; references and a comprehensive index.

“The entomologists from across the state who authored the manual have years of practical mosquito management experience as well as a wealth of first-hand information to share from the front lines of mosquito control,” Allen said. “This book not only answers the literally thousands of collective mosquito-related questions they receive annually, it also maps a number of very clear and concise management strategies for municipalities faced with widespread disease problems spread by unchecked mosquito populations.”

Dr. Sonja Swiger, AgriLife Extension entomologist at Stephenville, chaired the West Nile Virus Task Force formed to address that growing problem in 2012. The manual, which she organized and served as the primary reviewer of, was a product stemming from that group, Allen said.

Apart from Swiger, the manual authors in alphabetical order by agency are for AgriLife Extension are: Elizabeth “Wizzie” Brown, integrated pest management specialist, Austin; Janet Hurley, program specialist, Dallas; Molly Keck, integrated pest management program specialist, San Antonio; Dr. Mike Merchant, entomologist, Dallas. Texas Department of Agriculture: Janet Fults, director of environmental and biosecurity programs, Austin, and Michael Hare, pesticide evaluation and safety specialist, Austin.

Others include Dr. Gabriel Hamer, clinical assistant professor, Texas A&M University System, College Station; Mark Johnsen, environmental health specialist, Brazos County Health Department; R. Michael Sanders, environmental specialist, Dallas Department of Code Compliance; Scott Sawlis, entomologist/vector control supervisor, Dallas County Mosquito Control; and Tom Sidwa, zoonosis control branch manager, Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin.

For more information contact Allen at 325-653-4576, ctallen@tamu.edu