Finding the balance in mosquito management while minimizing environmental impact
St. Tammany Parish Mosquito Abatement (STPMAD) is comprised of a highly skilled team of professionals that include entomologists, biologists, and researchers. You might be interested to know that many members of our team are also beekeepers. While our team is dedicated to maintaining the health of our community, we are also insect enthusiasts committed to preserving the environment.
Our mission is to protect the health and quality of life of residents of St. Tammany Parish, by minimizing the risk of mosquito-transmitted diseases and managing the number of nuisance mosquitoes. We monitor mosquito abundance and disease indicators and use that information to make informed decisions to control larval and adult mosquitoes, with environmental modification or the selective use of public health pesticides.
Mosquito Management Plan
Every year, STPMAD updates and follows an integrated mosquito management plan, in order to respond to shifting populations in mosquito species. Each week mosquito traps are set across the parish to better understand where mosquito problems may be developing. Certain species are tested for pathogens, including West Nile and Zika viruses. This data directly influences where intervention is necessary, as well as where it is not.
Importance of Pollinators
We recognize the importance of honeybees and pollinators to our ecosystem, and are always cognizant of the impact of our efforts. We want to foster partnerships and develop a strong communication system with our pollinator community to ensure that we fulfill our mandate from the community while minimizing risk to non-target species.
The Science Behind Our Approach
We only treat for mosquitoes after dark, using ultranlow volume (ULV) spray applications. Why is this important? Because most bees have gone to the hive for the night and that is when mosquitoes are most active. Our planes and trucks do not leave the hangar until after the sun has set and they return long before it rises. This greatly reduces risk to bees because they are not out foraging.
During the Day
Each day our field crews are trapping and conducting surveillance, investigating trouble spots, and spraying ditches with larval mosquito insecticide. Occasionally, when there is West Nile activity, we will need to treat a targeted area with a hand-held spray unit to resolve a mosquito problem. However, our protocol is to not treat if the field biologist has found five or more bees in the area.
STPMAD uses only EPA-registered public health pesticides that have minimal risk to non-target species. These insecticides begin breaking down as soon as they are applied. The residual left behind on plants and in water begins to rapidly break down so that there is minimal amount remaining when the bees exit the hive in the morning.
Size of Droplets
Our trucks and planes are equipped with sprayers specifically calibrated to target mosquitoes. We control the size of the droplet and the concentration of the chemical and calibrate our equipment at multiple points throughout the year.
Measuring our impact
The EPA requires chemical companies test their insecticides on non-mosquito organisms that might come in to contact with them, such as fish, dragonflies, and other insects. At STPMAD we verify these claims with our own trials. More often than not, the EPA requirements are upheld, but there have been instances where we have stopped using certain insecticides as a result of non-target effects measured in our laboratory. Like you, we want to get rid of mosquitoes, and nothing else.
How can we work together?
List Your Hive on Our Maps!
Mosquito Abatement keeps a map that details all the bee hives or pollinator gardens in our parish. That way our crews are on the lookout when they are in your area. Many people think that when they register their hive with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, we are notified but unfortunately that is not the case–LDAF does not share their registry data. Being included on our hive map does not mean that we will not treat your area. It does however, allow our crews to know when bees are in the area and use that information in their decision making.
Check to See If You Qualify for a Treatment Exclusion
Aerial requirements: the hive or pollinator garden location must be at least 1,500 linear feet from any adjacent property line. Given the speed and release height of the aircraft, distances of less than 1,500 feet cannot reasonably be accommodated. Truck exclusion requirements: the property owned by the individual making the request must be greater than 300 linear feet from any adjacent property line (residential or commercial). If adjacent property owners make a request to be included in the treatment exclusion area, the additional distance gained on these properties will be considered.
Consider the Placement of Your Hive
To minimize the risk of bee exposure to insecticides intended for adult mosquitoes, STPMAD recommends placing hives at least 300 feet from the road. Additionally, we recommend orienting the hive entrance to point away from the road. Placing a fence around the hive can also help to minimize exposure. If accommodating these recommendations is impractical, hives should be placed as far from the road as possible.
Sign Up for Notification
Once we have your hive on our maps, you can opt to receive an automated message to notify you when STPMAD will be treating in your area. This will enable you to take precautions to protect your hive in advance.
How can you help control the mosquito population?
Drain all containers outside that are holding water.
Drain all water-holding containers. Mosquito larvae can live in containers holding less than an ounce of water. We frequently encounter mosquitoes living in water contained in: potted plants, buckets, tarps, bird-baths, kid’s toys, and many more. How many containers hold water around your house?
TIP: Set a weekly calendar reminder on Saturday mornings to dump out all stagnant water around your home.
Trim vegetation in your roadside ditches.
Ditches can provide the ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. Heavy vegetation provides mosquitoes protection from predators, like fish, as well as the insecticides we use on a weekly basis. A clean ditch will allow our crew to treat larvae before they are able to mature into biting adult mosquitoes.
TIP: Set a reminder to trim your ditches every other week.
Conduct maintenance on your septic system.
The mosquito responsible for transmitting West Nile virus lays its eggs and rears its larvae in water polluted with organic waste including human sewage. Regular maintenance of your septic system can reduce the mosquito population and pollution of the Lake Pontchartrain basin.
TIP: Maintain your septic system by ensuring aerator is plugged in and operable. The septic tank should be pumped out at least every five years.
St. Tammany Parish Mosquito Abatement is committed to protecting the health of our pollinators.
Did you know?
The LSU AgCenter Healy Research Lab focuses on arthropods that affect the health and well-being of the public. Most of their research is dedicated to the study of mosquitoes and honeybees. They collaborate with mosquito control districts, beekeepers, the USDA bee lab, and other labs to assess the impact of pesticides on bees. Learn more about their research by visiting https://www.lsu.edu/entomology/personnel/khealy.php.
How do I report a potentially pesticide-related bee kill?
- As soon as possible, collect both living and dead bees, as well as pollen from an affected hive for lab analysis. Samples should be kept in a freezer until sent for testing. A step-by-step procedure for collection techniques can be found on www.beeinformed.org.
- Take pictures and/or videos. Images of affected hives, locations and clusters of dead bees, and a view of hives from the nearest main road may assist in identifying a pesticide related bee kill.
- Contact the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) to request an inspection of the premises. If LDAF is unavailable, STPMAD can assist in gathering evidence, if requested.
- Take written note of all relevant details.
Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry
St. Tammany Parish Mosquito Abatement
Environmental Protection Agency