A mosquito-free home can be a big selling point for property management companies this time of year when most residents are likely to spend pleasant evenings and afternoons in the backyard. Property managers can help ensure this, not only by educating residents on mosquito control, but through effective pest management.
Lightweight, portable misting/fogging machines are providing more effective treatment of a pest that has posed significant health risks in recent years around the world. According to the American Mosquito Control Association, mosquitoes cause up to one million world-wide deaths a year that result from transmittable diseases.
As of early September, West Nile virus infections in humans, most notably caused by mosquitoes, have been reported in 37 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC reports 526 cases.
Your residents are likely to use an arsenal of ways to combat mosquitoes in the backyard, including spray repellents, citronella plants, torches and water dunks. Canned sprays are not always effective, and burning torches can be unpleasant.
Backpack foggers/mist blowers provide effective on-the-spot treatment
Property management companies can get the benefit of broad-brushed mosquito spray treatment and minimize the responsibility of residents to treat the property using backpack foggers/mist blowers that provide on-the-spot treatment to help ensure complete coverage of the property, says Chris Lee, president of Earthworks.
The backpacks, which resemble leaf blowers, are designed to fog isolated areas similar to the coverage of spray trucks. The portability of the gas-powered foggers permits greater penetration of chemicals in ground foliage where mosquitoes could be lurking near standing water or in areas not accessible by larger applicators.
“It allows for the first time to get a good application to cover all of the foliage and its interior in areas around the property that may not be accessible through other treatment methods,” Lee said. “It uses regular chemicals that won’t affect the grounds. It’s more effective than anything out there.”
The backpacks are easy enough to handle that a property management company could arm its maintenance team to provide year-round treatment (note: the operator must be licensed). In addition to a regular maintenance schedule, applications can be applied before holiday weekends or on special events or at problem areas.
Most are lightweight and can be prepped with an insecticide mixture and strapped on in just a matter of minutes. The machines double as blowers and are readily available from industrial equipment supply companies and lawn care specialists for a few hundred dollars.
Residents, property managers should be vigilant about mosquito control
Lee says a mosquito-free property is an amenity in itself, and that property managers have an opportunity to better improve the resident experience by eliminating the problem pests.
“It really is an amenity,” he said. “Residents can be responsible for controlling mosquitoes, but there is only so much they can do. Fogger technology is easy enough now that more intense treatment is available so that the source is better controlled without having to call in a big spray truck.”
Residents still should vigilant about controlling mosquitoes, Lee says. Mosquitoes cause more human suffering than any other organism.
Property operators and residents can take the following steps recommended by AMCA to prevent mosquito breeding on their own property:
- Destroy or dispose of containers that collect and hold water. Do not allow water to accumulate in the saucers of flowerpots or in pet dishes for more than two days.
- Clean debris from rain gutters and remove any standing water under or around structures, or on flat roofs. Check around faucets and air conditioner units and repair leaks or eliminate puddles that remain for several days.
- Change the water in birdbaths and stock ornamental pools with top feeding predacious minnows. Known as mosquito fish, these minnows are about an inch-and-a-half long and can be purchased or native fish can be seined from streams and creeks locally.
- Treat ornamental pools with biorational larvicides under certain circumstances. Commercial products “Mosquito Dunks” and “Mosquito Bits” can be purchased at many hardware/garden stores. Pre-Strike Mosquito Torpedo that kills developing mosquitoes using insect growth regulator technology is available at many home/garden and pet specialty stores.
- Fill or drain puddles, ditches and swampy areas, and either remove, drain or fill tree holes and stumps with mortar. These areas may be treated with Bti or methoprene products, also.
- Check for trapped water in plastic or canvas tarps used to cover boats, pools, etc. Arrange the tarp to drain the water.
- Irrigate lawns and gardens carefully to prevent water from standing for several days. If ditches do not flow and contain stagnant water for one week or longer, they can produce large numbers of mosquitoes.