New Report Provides Guidance on Mosquito Management that Protects People and Wetlands

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 4, 2013.

CONTACTS:
Celeste Mazzacano, Aquatic Program Director, The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation; (503) 490-0389, celeste@xerces.org.
Scott Hoffman Black, Executive Director, The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation; (503) 449-3792, sblack@xerces.org.

New Report Provides Guidance on Mosquito Management that Protects People and Wetlands

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PORTLAND, Ore.—A new report released today by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation shows that public education and targeted mosquito management efforts are the best way to both protect communities from mosquito-borne diseases and protect wetland health.

Ecologically Sound Mosquito Management in Wetlands reviews the history of mosquito management in the United States, and describes current mosquito management practices and their direct and indirect impact on nontarget organisms. The report also recommends effective alternative approaches to mosquito management, including public education, conserving natural enemies and using state-of-the-art GIS surveillance. The report synthesizes over 450 publications to ensure the recommendations are based on the best available science.

“Insecticides are the default mosquito management tool in most areas, and each year tens of millions of acres of wetlands are treated with pesticides,” said Scott Hoffman Black, the Xerces Society’s executive director and coauthor of the report. “Their use is often reactive, ineffective, and harmful to water quality and wildlife.”

The most commonly used adulticides (pesticides that kill the adult mosquitoes) are organophosphates and pyrethroids, broad-spectrum toxins that severely impact nontarget invertebrates, fish, amphibians, and birds. They have been implicated in declines of both wetland-associated and terrestrial wildlife, including endangered butterflies that live near treated areas. Larvicides (pesticides that kill the immature mosquitoes) are considered less toxic, but even these can have a negative impact on the wetland community by disrupting local food webs and harming nontarget organisms when applied repeatedly throughout the season.

“The Centers for Disease Control stress the importance of reducing mosquito abundance through site management and removing artificial containers in which mosquitoes can breed,” said Celeste Mazzacano, aquatic program director for the Xerces Society and lead author of the report. “Public education about eliminating mosquito breeding sites around the home and taking personal protective measures is an effective way to prevent being bitten.”

Following these general principles, Ecologically Sound Mosquito Management in Wetlands lays out a series of steps for land managers to take in developing a site-specific, ecologically sound mosquito management plan.

Wildlife managers have serious concerns about the effects of mosquito management practices on wildlife health and biodiversity. Their goals to manage wetlands as natural areas to conserve sensitive fish, amphibians, and birds and to reduce or eliminate pesticide impacts on water quality and the food web are often at odds with vector control agencies’ fear of increased mosquito production. Protecting our remaining wetlands is critical; nearly half of U.S. states have lost over 50% of their wetlands, and several have lost more than 80%. It is increasingly important to develop wetland management techniques that sustain the integrity and biodiversity of these vulnerable ecosystems while simultaneously providing effective management of an insect with serious public health and nuisance impacts.

Ecologically Sound Mosquito Management in Wetlands will help land managers formulate site-specific mosquito management plans that balance the needs of the environment with those of the human community, creating solutions to mosquito issues that are both more effective and less toxic to the aquatic ecosystem.

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To download a copy of the report or a four-page summary, click here.

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation: Protecting the Life that Sustains Us.

The Xerces Society is a nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat. Established in 1971, the Society is at the forefront of invertebrate protection worldwide, harnessing the knowledge of scientists and the enthusiasm of citizens to implement conservation programs. To learn more about our work, please visit www.xerces.org.


The Xerces Society • 628 NE Broadway Ste 200, Portland OR 97232 USA • tel 855.232.6639 • fax 503.233.6794 • info@xerces.org
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