Mosquito Trapping Devices
Mosquito season has arrived in Northeast Florida! With the current outbreak of West Nile Virus in our area many homeowners are concerned about how best to protect themselves from mosquito bites. There are currently several companies advertising devices that promise to reduce or eliminate mosquito populations. These devices retail for $300.00 – $1400.00 for the initial investment.
According to Dr. Roxanne Rutledge, Extension Specialist and Medical Entomologist with the University of Florida Medical Entomology Lab in Vero Beach, there are currently no published scientific studies to support the claims from the manufacturers of these products.
One model generates carbon dioxide (CO2) that acts to lure the mosquitoes to the device, and then another part of the device collects them into a bag where they will die. Several spin-offs of this model use other "attractants" such as octenol (another chemical attractant for biting insects), to lure the mosquitoes into the trap. At 21 – 30 day intervals, the fuel that generates the CO2 and the octenol must be replaced at the buyers’ expense.
The CO2 baited traps will, indeed, catch mosquitoes - a bag full every night in some locations since female mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide (CO2). This is the cue they follow to find a "host" (blood-meal). Entomologists have been using CO2 as "bait" for years to attract mosquitoes for research purposes. Therefore mosquitoes will be captured but whether you are significantly reducing the population will have to be answered. One impressively large collection, a "bag full", is a minute percentage of all the host-seeking females and will not likely impact these very large populations.
There are also 77 different species of mosquitoes in Florida. Each species varies in what host they bite, the time of day they feed, and how far they can fly. Not all of the mosquitoes that bite humans are attracted to these traps. An important example of this is Aedes albopictus, the "Asian Tiger Mosquito," that spends its immature stages in tires, vases, bowls, and other water-holding devices that may be found around the yard. This species is a primary biting pest for homeowners, and one that most citizens in Florida will encounter. This species is not attracted to these advertised traps. The best recommendation for reducing this species is to dump out the water every 3-4 days or remove the container.
There may be certain circumstances where the mosquito trapping devices can indeed reduce mosquito-biting activity in a small area for a specific time period. Several factors would have to be optimal for this to be true:
- There should be little wind to disrupt the attractive CO2 cloud
- The mosquito numbers are manageable to begin with.
- The attractant plume is more substantial than large numbers of people.
Researchers at the IFAS/University of Florida Medical Entomology Lab will be working with local homeowners to study the devices this summer.
Mosquito Protection Tips:
- Avoid exposure to mosquitoes - stay indoors during peak biting time (dawn & dusk).
- If you must be outside during peak biting time, wear long sleeves and pants.
- Wear mosquito repellents when outside during dawn & dusk. Use mosquito repellents containing DEET. Be sure to follow the directions on the label.
- Make sure window and door screens are in good repair to prevent mosquitoes from entering homes.
- Remove unnecessary sources of water outside the home that may provide breeding places for mosquitoes.
- Flush out the water in bird baths and outdoor pet dishes often.
- Remove leaf litter, standing water and debris from roof gutters and boat covers.
Wear long sleeves and pants if you are going to be outside at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are the most likely to bite.