Tag Archives: Mosquitoes

Zika May Be Carried By Another Mosquito Species

Zika May Be Carried By Another Mosquito Species

Right on the heels of a May 1st CBS News story reporting that the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Vital Signs publication revealed that mosquito and tick viruses had tripled from 2004-2016, Pest Control Technology magazine highlighted a study published by University of Florida (UF) researchers that speculates that another mosquito species may carry Zika virus. Led by UF/IFAS Medical Entomology Department’s Associate Professor, Chelsea Smartt, her team detected Zika virus in the saliva of southern house mosquitoes, collected from Gainesville and Vero Beach. The study revealed that further testing is needed to confirm early lab reports to establish a species, known as Culex quinquefasciatus, as a Zika carrier.

Zika first gained wide recognition in Brazil as the country underwent an outbreak of the virus just prior to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics. A single-stranded RNA mosquito-borne arborvirus, Zika cycles between mosquitos and humans in urban environments. Brazil’s Zika outbreak in 2016 quickly spread to the southern US, “transmitted primarily by Aedes aegypti.” Currently, Aedes aegypti is still the primary Zika carrier. According to Smartt’s study, published in Frontiers in Microbiology, field-collected Culex quinquefasciatu from Brazil “were found infected with genome fragments of ZIKA and field collections from Mexico were found infected with live Zika.” However, lab report results differ concerning the viability of the Culex species to support Zika.

Zika and microcephaly

The major health concern regarding the spread of Zika centers on the cases of microcephaly that this virus can cause. Microcephaly, a rare neurological condition, results in infants born with significantly smaller heads than other newborns. While Zika has been hard to pin down as the definitive cause of microcephaly, many of the mothers whose babies were affected in Brazil reported an illness, according to IFL Science, “that was consistent with Zika virus infection in early pregnancy.” About a year before the critical numbers of microcephaly incidents occurred, a dengue-like illness, featuring fevers and rashes began in northeastern Brazil. Zika was identified as the cause six months later.

Culex quinquefasciatus is common in Florida

Meanwhile, as Smartt indicated, more research and experimentation is required to determine what role, if any, Culex quinquefasciatus, aka southern house mosquitoes, play in the spread of the Zika virus.  While southern house mosquitoes are common in the southern states, they thrive in abundance in Florida. Culex quinquefasciatus, found in tropical and sub-tropical areas, like most mosquitoes, is common also in Brazil, Africa, and Southeast Asia.

Worldwide concerns

Much attention and research worldwide, in addition to Smartt’s study, are underway to understand the origins of Zika and gain insights about how to control the virus. “In areas of the world where these mosquitoes feed on humans, there may be populations of Culex quinquefasciatus that can spread Zika,” Smartt said.

Nine new vector-transmitted diseases since 2004

In the CDC’s Vital Signs report, the agency also reported that nine new tick and mosquito germs have been discovered since 2004. CDC director, Robert R. Redfield, M.D. said in a briefing, “Zika, West Nile, Lyme, and chikungunya – a growing list of diseases caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, tick, or flea – have confronted the US in recent years, making a lot of people sick. And we don’t know what will threaten Americans next.”

Globalization and rising temps

When asked about the reasons for the increases in occurrences of vector-related diseases, one of the study’s authors and the CDC’s director of vector-borne diseases, Lyle Peterson, M.D., said that, continued globalization has played an important role, especially when it comes to mosquito-borne diseases, noting that with “expanding global travel and trade, all of these diseases are basically a plane flight away.” Lyle went on to say, “This was the case during the 2016 Zika outbreak, which began in Brazil and spread to other parts of South and North America,” after mosquitoes bit infected travelers who unknowingly brought the virus home.” The CDC said also that warmer temps and longer warm seasons are playing an important role in tick populations moving north.

For the first line of defense in controlling mosquito and tick diseases, the CDC suggests

State and local health agencies should develop and sustain programs that test and track diseases spread by mosquitoes and train vector control staff on the five core competencies used in prevention and control protocols including:

  • Conducting routine mosquito surveillance through standardized trapping and species identification and make treatment decisions using surveillance data.
  • Applying larvicides and adulticides or both.
  • Conducting routine vector control activities that include biological, source reduction and environmental management.
  • The CDC stresses the importance of state and local health agencies launching initiatives that educate and remind the public to take precautions during outdoor activities, by increasing community and neighborhood awareness.

In addition to education, monitoring and reducing mosquito populations on the state and local level, Hulett would like to remind South Florida homeowners that vigilance in your own backyard will help prevent mosquitoes from ruining your summer. With mosquito-borne disease on the rise, applying insect repellant when gardening, mowing or entertaining is an essential precaution as is:

  • Repairing or replacing window and door screens
  • Removing all containers from your property that can collect water
  • Changing water in bird baths at least once a week
  • Correcting all water prone areas where mosquitoes might breed

Many products, such as citronella and DEET only mask the scents that attract mosquitoes to humans. If mosquitoes are putting a damper on your outdoor plans, contact Hulett to learn more about our Mosquito Reduction Program. Our licensed and certified technicians will inspect your property, identifying areas where mosquitoes are likely to breed and hide. Treating those areas with a residual product, we also apply a sticking agent to areas where mosquitoes rest in the daytime. A micro-encapsulated product applied to all entryways will create a protective barrier from mosquitoes and other insects. Enjoy your summer without the worry of mosquitoes ruining your plans. Just call Hulett!

Mosquito Outbreak in South Florida Following Hurricane Irma

Mosquito Outbreak in South Florida Following Hurricane Irma

South Florida is recovering from one of the most powerful hurricanes in history, life is just beginning to return to normal. While most of the power has been restored and businesses have reopened, South Florida is busy trying to get ahead of a threat from one of her most persistent pests in the form of a potential mosquito outbreak.

Standing water from flooding and debris is causing concern

On the eve of October’s king tides and almost a month after Hurricane Irma thrashed South Florida, flood waters have receded but standing water is now causing concern in areas such as Bonita Springs, where wet soil and standing water make perfect breeding grounds for disease-causing mosquitoes. Piles of debris left in Irma’s wake also pose the potential for even more places for water to collect. Authorities are spraying many areas in order to keep mosquito numbers down.

With 90% of South Florida’s power knocked out, officials waited until power was restored to spray in some areas, to avoid mosquito fighting materials floating into homes where citizens opened windows to combat the heat. On September 27th, USA Today reported that mosquito trucks have been spraying in Broward County, “all week long in several Broward cities that have large debris piles following Irma.” The article goes on to say that Palm Beach County has been spraying the region for days, “especially in cities closest to the Everglades.”

West Nile and Eastern equine encephalitis more likely than Zika to present problems

Although the outbreak of the Zika virus in Miami in 2016 led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue unprecedented domestic travel warnings, Duke-NUS Medical School’s mosquito-borne disease expert, Duane Gubler, said, in a September 28, 2017 Vox article, “If there’s increased transmission of mosquito-borne diseases [after the hurricanes], it’ll be from West Nile and Eastern equine encephalitis.” Gubler said that massive floods, such as the recent floods caused by Irma wash away mosquito breeding grounds, “as well as the insects that transmit diseases like Zika and West Nile.”

Gubler explained that West Nile and Eastern equine encephalitis are endemic to the US, unlike Zika and chikungunya and other mosquito-borne diseases that need to be imported by travelers. Gubler said that even though mosquito breeding grounds are washed away in storms, mosquitoes can rapidly re-infest areas with favorable breeding areas, such as standing water and wet soil.

Gayle Love, a spokesperson from the Miami-Dade Department of Solid Waste Management, the department that oversees mosquito control, said the county would resume its regular truck-spraying schedule the evening of Tuesday, October 3rd, according to the USA Today article, targeting areas affected by the 2016 Zika outbreak.

No aerial spraying since Irma

Love went on to say no aerial spraying has happened since Irma, but that “the county has resumed their usual procedures,” monitoring areas to determine where and when spraying should be administered, inspecting mosquito traps and deploying inspectors who follow up on citizen complaints to identify areas affected by large mosquito swarms. Love said, “We stand ready should those numbers go up.” Inspectors will have to completely re-assess the Florida Keys because so many mosquito breeding grounds were destroyed during Irma and new breeding grounds are now being established.

What you can do if mosquitoes are ruining your backyard fun

As South Florida continues to get back up to speed after the fury of Hurricane Irma, homeowners may encounter more mosquitoes in their backyards. Hulett Environmental Services suggests that South Florida homeowners contact a professional pest control company to inspect their properties for mosquito breeding grounds and treat for mosquitoes around your home.

Just call Hulett for a free mosquito inspection

Contact us to schedule a free inspection of your property to identify areas where mosquitoes are likely to hide or breed. Environmentally responsible, our skilled technicians will treat mosquito-prone areas with a residual product and apply a sticking agent to resting areas mosquito retreat to in the daytime. In order to keep mosquitoes from entering your home, we use a micro-encapsulated product, applied at all potential mosquito entry points, around doorways and windows to create a protective barrier between your home and your loved ones and these annoying insects.

Planning a cookout, pool party or even a wedding reception in your backyard?

We offer an additional, effective tool, geared towards large events: Hulett’s Fogging Services. With our ULV, or Ultra Low Volume, foggers that deflect and fight adult mosquitoes outdoors, your family and guests will be able to enjoy your event to its fullest.

How you can help prevent mosquito issues

  • Eliminate standing water around your property. Any object that collects water provides a potential breeding ground for mosquitoes. This includes kids’ toys, extra flower pots and gardening containers, birdbaths, your dog’s water bowl, patio furniture and even bottle caps.
  • Eliminate leftover construction materials and any debris from around your property.
  • Clean your gutters regularly and make sure drain spouts drain away from your house.

Contact a professional pest control company when biting mosquitoes are ruining your porch or backyard fun. Call Hulett for a free mosquito inspection today! Just call Hulett!

Mosquitoes Deliver a Double Whammy of Diseases


New studies have revealed some rather bad news about the mosquito’s ability to pass on diseases. It turns out they’re even better at it than we’d previously thought. So, you know how mosquitoes can carry more than one disease, as in they might be carriers of both the Zika virus and chikungunya? Well, it turns out they can give you both of those diseases with just one bite. How did we find discover this?

Well, it would seem some scientists were playing around with infecting lab mosquitoes with both the Zika virus and chikungunya, and the experiment worked! However, when they looked at the amount of mosquito saliva that is transferred in one bite they also found that those mosquitoes could now also infect a person with both diseases at the same time. The saliva contained enough of each virus that both could be transferred in one bite. Now doesn’t that just make your day? But wait! That’s not all!

It turns out that simply eradicating the mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus may not actually end this epidemic. A new research study found that female mosquitoes can pass on the Zika virus to their offspring directly into their eggs. So, even if we kill all the adults carrying the virus, we’ll still have the next generation to deal with, and the next, and the next…you get the idea. Scientists believe that this is a defense mechanism that helps the virus to survive in an adverse environment. At the moment the pesticides being used to try and control the virus is able to kill off adults but not the eggs, meaning researchers are going to have to step up they’re game and come up with an insecticide that is able to kill off both the adults and their eggs. Mosquito eggs can also lie dormant for months when the weather is dry and then hatch once it rains. So, even if only a few eggs survived and carried the disease, they could start the epidemic all over again. We could have episodes of the disease popping up again after a dry spell and spreading on and off for years to come.

Do you think researchers will ever develop a way to completely eradicate the Zika virus?

Parents Concerned with the Zika Virus Need to Prep Kids for Protection this Summer

Although the Zika virus has not infected anybody in the United States Locally we cannot say the same about our closest neighbors such as South America and The Caribbean.  It seems as though it is only a matter of time before the Zika virus makes itself a threat in the US.  Naturally parents are concerned about this looming threat and want to take every measure to ensure the safety of their children, and Mosquito nets draped over their bunk beds are not enough.  So here are a few ideas to better protect your children from the Zika virus this summer.

EPA Registered insect repellent is a must for any child going away to camp this summer.  But first make sure that the repellent contains DEET and oil of lemon eucalyptus just to name a couple.  The center for disease control has a list of recommended products on their website.  No kid wants to spend summer being the butt of jokes over his clothing, and although it may be hot, it is still the safest to dress in long pants and long sleeves.  By doing this kids drastically reduce their chances of bites.  Permethrin treated clothing can repel ticks and mosquitos, so it may be worth it to shell out an extra few bucks if it means increasing the chances that your kid will come home from camp safe and disease free.  Be safe kids!

How are you preparing for the Zika virus?

It’s Time to Do Your Homework: Poll Reveals American’s Staggering Lack of Knowledge About the Zika Virus

It’s Time to Do Your Homework: Poll Reveals American’s Staggering Lack of Knowledge About the Zika Virus

I feel like I see news about the Zika virus blasted all over the internet everyday, but apparently not many people are actually reading it. A poll of over 1,000 Americans conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health revealed that most of us are seriously mistaken in our knowledge about the Zika virus.

Let’s take a look at what kind of results the researchers found. When asked whether there was a link between the Zika virus and birth defects, one in four people seem to be completely unaware that the virus causes microcephaly in infants. Do you know whether there is a vaccine for the Zika virus? Well, if you said yes, first of all just know now that your wrong, and you’ve got plenty of company. Twenty percent of the people polled also thought we already had a vaccine for the virus.

Here’s a fun one. How is the Zika virus transmitted? Let’s see what pollers thought. Hmm…31 percent thought it could be transmitted by coughing and sneezing…that one is just sad. 42 percent didn’t know that the virus could be sexually transmitted. 29 percent didn’t realize that you could catch it through a blood transfusion. Let me officially announce that the Zika virus is mostly transmitted through the bite of a mosquito. That’s an important one to remember.

I think this clearly shows that not enough of us are reading the news or doing our homework on this massive outbreak that has spread to at least 41 countries or territories. Come on people. It’s time to pay attention.

Did you have any of these misconceptions? Did you realize how many people were misinformed about the Zika virus?

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Zika Virus

The Zika virus is causing quite a stir, especially with the 2016 Summer Olympics taking place in Brazil. So, in case you don’t know all the details, here are the most important ones to remember.

The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness, meaning is it transmitted through the bite of the female Aedes Aegyoti mosquito. However, there have also been a growing number of sexually transmitted cases. There is currently no treatment for the virus, and scientists report that a vaccine won’t be available to the public for a few years.

The Zika virus does not cause death in those infected, but it has been linked to people developing the neurological disorder Guillain-Barre Syndrome and an increased chance of babies of infected mothers developing microcephaly, a condition that causes them to be born with underdeveloped heads and brains.

While as many as 80 percent of the people infected with the Zika virus show no symptoms, those that do experience mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain and fatigue that can last for two to seven days. Officials are urging people to avoid traveling to Zika infected areas, and be vigilant about wearing insect repellent.

The Zika virus is now actively spreading in at least 38 countries or territories, with the majority of them being in the Americas. Currently, officials are working on developing a way to control and decrease the mosquito population that is spreading the disease.

Have you taken precautions against the Zika virus? Are you worried about it spreading to the U.S.?

South Florida Prepares for the Zika Virus: What Residents Need to Know

Preparing for Zika Virus

According to the Sun Sentinel, there are now 20 confirmed cases of the Zika virus in Florida as of Friday, February 12th. In South Florida alone, there are three reported cases within Broward County, and seven in Miami Dade County. To date there have been no reported cases in Palm Beach County, but local health officials are ramping up efforts to reduce mosquito populations, as well as remove areas that provide favorable conditions for mosquitoes to breed across all three counties.

All of the reported cases in both Broward and Dade County were from people infected while traveling to other countries. Even though several cases of Zika virus have been confirmed in the U.S. in Florida, Texas, Illinois and New York, a major outbreak is not expected here according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control). In Florida, the state Department of Health has established a hotline for residents and visitors where they can call to ask any questions they may have about the virus 855-622-6735.

The news is full of information on the startling birth defects the Zika virus has caused along with travel alerts, dangers, and warnings to avoid it. At Hulett, we know that our customers have questions about the Zika Virus and the risks associated, and want to provide our customers with some general information on the virus and a few simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your family.

Understanding the Zika Virus

Let’s start by understanding what the Zika virus is. The simplest explanation is that it’s a pathogen whose side effects can range from uncomfortable to deadly when contracted by humans. With symptoms similar to the flu, the Zika virus is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and transmitted to humans through mosquito bites.

Only 1 in 5 people infected with Zika show signs or symptoms. For those who do show signs or symptoms, they are usually mild and the individual may not even realize they are infected making screening and treatment difficult. Some minor symptoms might include red rash with small bumps, low-grade fever, headache, and red, itchy eyes and joint pain. More serious side effects of exposure to the virus include abnormally small head size in newborns whose mother was exposed to the virus, Guillain-Barre disease, paralysis and other birth defects including club feet.

The Aedes (ay-dees) mosquitoes, have also been known to spread other diseases, such as dengue (den-gee) fever and chikungunya (chik-un-gun-ya) fever. These mosquitoes are aggressive, feeding during the day and at night. If you think you have the Zika virus consult your healthcare provider.

Steps Florida Health Officials Are Taking

Governor Rick Scott last week declared a public health emergency in Hillsborough, Miami Dade, Santa Rosa and Lee Counties, later expanding this to include Broward County after new cases were reported there. South Florida, unlike other places in the U.S., is of concern to most health officials considering the high volume of international travelers returning from places in Latin America where the outbreak has been more severe. Hospitals throughout South Florida are actively cataloging the recent travel history of all patients who have common Zika virus symptoms if they have recently visited any of the 29 countries on the current CDC’s travel alert list.

Counties throughout Florida have stepped up their control efforts, but even the most effective mosquito control agency will have limited impact on controlling mosquito populations statewide. Agencies are increasing control efforts in and around neighborhoods by spraying and removing conditions on properties that are conducive for breeding. Mosquito control techniques today focus primarily on killing adult mosquitoes and destroying the immatures by direct application of pesticides to places with standing water where they reside.

Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Family and Home

There is no one best method or guarantee of protecting yourself from this virus, even within in your home since they could enter during a door or window being opened. One method of protection against this virus is to implement a mosquito reduction program and remove conditions that make it easy for mosquitoes to breed. State and county programs for control help reduce the overall populations. These programs however, without homeowner participation, will have a limited impact on reducing the overall population given they cannot treat every clogged rain gutter, bird bath or flower pot found in Florida effectively. To do this, state agencies need homeowners to do their part to remove areas on their property that can be ripe breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

  • Empty standing water from any containers like; birdfeeders, ceramic pots, buckets, plastic wading pools, or wheelbarrows found in your yard.
  • Drill holes in the bottoms of recycling containers, or garbage cans that are left outdoors.
  • Keep your gutters clean and unclogged. Roof gutters that become overly clogged with leaves can trap rain water in making it a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.
  • Take care of your swimming pool. Make sure you clean and chlorinate your pool regularly even when it is not being used. If you are utilizing a pool cover make sure no standing water is left pooling on top as mosquitoes can breed in the water pooled on covers.
  • If you have a boat make sure you cover it and remove any accumulated rainwater on a weekly basis.
  • If you have low lying areas around your home that flood easily with moderate rainfall, consider getting these areas filled to prevent any pooling of water on the property and in ditches and other low lying areas.

Even having a screened porch and/or AC is no guarantee that mosquitoes won’t be a problem in and around your home. Also, regardless of even having a mosquito reduction program in place or not, there will still be some mosquitoes leaving the risk for infection. Mosquito reduction programs are meant to reduce the number of mosquitoes that are breeding on the property, but are not meant to completely eliminate them. Hulett has been serving South Florida for over 45 years, helping homeowner’s reduce the number of mosquitoes breeding on their property.

Just Call HULETT if you have any questions about how we can help reduce the number of mosquitoes found in and around your home. To learn more about our mosquito control program go to https://www.bugs.com/pest-control/mosquito-control.asp or give us a call at 1-866-611-BUGS (2847).

Mosquitoes May Carry Another Fever

Rickettsia felis is a bacteria that causes fever, muscle aches, rash and headache.  It lives in African countries where malaria is also common.  Until recently, it was believed to be transmitted by fleas and ticks, but new research shows there may be more to the story.

Diseases with fever symptoms are common in Africa, and therefore distinguishing between their types, symptoms and origins is critical. R. felis was originally identified and studied in places where “fevers of unknown origin” are common.

To learn how R. felis may be transmitted, scientists found mosquitoes known to carry malaria and fed them with blood carrying either R. felis bacteria or another types.  They found the disease-causing R. felis bacteria in the mosquitoes after feeding them, and also observed the bacteria being transferred to neutral mediums, like cotton, via mosquito saliva.

Using mice, researchers were able to confirm the R. felis bacteria could be easily transferred to mammals and sicken them.

Further research in this region is needed to understand exactly how R. felis is transmitted, so that public health precautions can be used to reduce exposure to the bugs as well as the disease they carry.