The humble mosquito: the world’s most dangerous animal

 

For something so small, the modest mosquito has single-handedly been responsible for the deaths of billions of people worldwide, and goes down in recorded history as the world’s most dangerous animal.

 

There are dozens of different species of mosquito found in Australia, with 33 species so far discovered in WA.

Click here for a list of Australian-found mosquitos.

 

Mosquitos are responsible for the spread of several major viruses that wreak havoc and bring forth much death, pain and/or long term suffering. Some of the most dangerous are:-

plasmodium-falciparum-parasite

Plasmodium Falciparum Parasite – Malaria, carried by the female Anopheles mosquito

  • Malaria
  • Dengue Fever (DF)
  • Ross River Virus (RRV)
  • Zika Virus (ZV)
  • West Nile Virus (WNV)

 

Malaria is the most dangerous of these viruses (pictured right).

 

The Malaria parasite – Plasmodium Falciparum, which the female Anopheles species carries – is found on all continents, barring Antarctica. This parasite is transmitted from person to person each time they bite, thereby spreading the virus. Between 300 to 500 million cases of Malaria occur each year, and a human dies on average every 30 seconds. Some of the worst-affected places are Africa- south of the Sahara, Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, with the more polluted or poverty-stricken regions being some of the worst areas affected.

 


The mosquito life cycleThe General Mosquito life cycle

 

Although most areas will have a management or control plan in place, it is impossible to rid the entire regions of them.

 

Their life cycle is rapid, reproducing in their billions within a 24 to 48 period, depending on weather, species and environment.

 

When all the different agencies and local regional groups work together in trying to eradicate the mosquito, it is far more effective in controlling them.

 

Click here for more information on the mosquito life cycle.

 


Mosquito management programmes

 

Late Spring to Autumn is the prime-time for the robust mosquito. This is when the preventative measures should be implemented, and precautions for keeping numbers low need to be taken. Local Councils, government departments, public landowners, businesses and residents all need to work together to reduce numbers.

 

Most places will have a semi-effective control programme which targets four key areas:

 

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Most recent mosquito trapping and surveillance locations in Kalgoorlie

  • Surveillance – The regular trapping and testing of mosquitos to find out what species are causing problems,how many there are, and whether any of the mosquitos are carrying disease they can transmit to people.

 

  • Source reduction – Cleaning up stagnant ponds, managing stormwater drainage systems, and digging ditches around marshy areas to help cut down on the number of places where mosquitos can actually lay and hatch eggs. This includes getting people to dump water-filled containers around their yards that can serve as mosquito breeding grounds.

 

  • Larvicide – Finding ways, both biological and chemical, to kill mosquitos while they are still in the larval stage living in water. This could mean putting bacteria or oil in the water to poison the larvae, or introducing natural predators to feed on them.

 

  • Adulticide – The method of last resort, using mosquito spray to kill large numbers of adults as they fly and feed. Crews release insecticidal fogs from individual self-carry units, planes and trucks over targeted areas at specific times so they can get as many as possible in one shot. Helps to eliminate females before they have a chance to lay eggs. Also a necessity after storms cause heavy flooding because huge swarms will soon follow.

 

None of the methods are effective by themselves, but have to be combined to attack every stage of the mosquito life cycle. Otherwise, no matter how many bugs the crews killed, there would be millions more waiting to take their place.

 

To find out what programme is in place in your region, contact your local Council, Environmental Health Department or Department of Parks & Wildlife.

 

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Spraying mosquitos in Kalgoorlie

 Environmental Health Directorate

 

Perth Councils

 

Department of Parks & Wildlife 

 

City of Kalgoorlie Boulder

 

Shire of Coolgardie

 

Shire of Menzies

 


Precautions you can take against mosquitos

 

  • General Housekeeping: empty out containers in your yards which catch water, fix all gaps and leaks in tanks.
  • Protect yourself indoors by ensuring all doors and window coverings have no rips or tears in the screens, and are flush to the edges.
  • Plant natural repellant plants, such as Citronella, Lavender, Basil, or Rosemary. Click here to see a list of natural repellant plants.
  • Dress to reduce access for mosquitos to bite and feed – loose fitting, long sleeved clothing works best. Mosquitos are attracted to darker clothes, so pale-coloured clothing will also decrease the potential of bites.
  • Wear a registered Mosquito Repellant. Repellents with DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide), Picaridin (KBR 3023) or Oil of lemon eucalyptus (p-methane 3,8- diol, or PMD) work well.

 


Other relevant mosquito links


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