Trapping the Zika Mosquito

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So far Zika has been identified in mosquitoes in more than 60 countries and territories and the CDC has warned that the southeastern part of the US — particularly Florida and Texas — was at risk of outbreaks during mosquito season this year. It’s the region where the Zika-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes thrive in the greatest concentrations. True to form, on July 19, 2016, health officials announced that a woman living in Miami-Dade County, Florida, had tested positive for the mosquito-borne and sexually transmitted virus - making it the the first locally acquired case of the virus.

The Aedes aegypti or Zika mosquito, is an early morning or late afternoon biter, and is an indoor/outdoor pest. Indoors, this species will happily rest inside closets, under chairs and other dark places, so well fitted mesh screens over doors and windows is a must if you want to keep them outside. Outdoors, they rest where it is cool and shaded. They are attracted by CO2, sweat, octenol, heat and the colors red and black, which is why we typically recommend the ULTRA trap with CO2 for anyone specifically targeting this species. Trap location is very important - according to published studies, capture rates of Aedes mosquitoes in shade or partial shade were over three times higher than those in areas exposed to the sun. When locating your trap think shade, shelter from strong winds, damp areas, and vegetation. In a Trap study conducted by Dr Dan Kline (USDA) comparing Mega-Catch with Mosquito Magnet Traps, laboratory reared Aedes aegypti, Culex quinquefasciatus and Ochlerotatus taeniorhynchus were used. In these studies CO2 baited Mega-Catch™ traps caught nearly twice as many Aedes aegypti and nearly equal numbers of the other two species as the Mosquito Magnet™ Pro trap. The Mega-Catch™ trap without CO2 caught several hundred less Aedes aegypti. Using the Mega-Catch Fragrance Strips are highly recommended as the main ingredient is Octenol.

How to Protect Against Mosquito Bites:

1. Trap: Mega-Catch™ Ultra and Premier XC traps are fully customizable smart traps with a programmable menu that enables them to be fine-tuned to maximize capture rates and target specific mosquito species. By accessing the Menu on the LCD display it’s possible to adjust the Mosquito Attracting Stimuli settings. The different setting options allow you to experiment and determine what works best on the mosquitoes in your area. For attracting and trapping the Zika mosquito (Aedes aegypti) we recommend the following MAS adjustments:

  • Reduce the fan speed on your trap to low (1 or 2) as this allows the trap to run slightly warmer.
  • Increase heat pulsing to 4 or 5 from the central core heat pulsing system to subtly alter the infrared signature that mimics changes in human body.
  • Increase flicker speed to 4 or 5 of central LED cluster. This alters the appearance of variable frequency light movement inside the trap which attracts day time biters (Aedes) in particular
  • Turn the UV cathode tube ON as it attracts day time biters in particular.
  • We recommend adjusting the gas settings (ULTRA) higher (3 or 4) during the day. However, the trap may catch more if placed on a low gas setting and run 24/7. Some experimentation may be required.

2. Wear Insect Repellent: Yes! It is safe. When used as directed, insect repellent is one of the best ways to protect yourself from mosquito bites—even children and pregnant women should protect themselves. Higher percentages of active ingredient provide longer lasting protection.

  • DEET: Products containing DEET include Cutter, OFF!,
  • Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel and icaridin): Is an effective alternative to DEET. Products containing picaridin include Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus, and Autan outside of the United States).
  • Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE) or (PMD): Repel contains OLE.
  • IR3535: Products containing IR3535 include Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition and SkinSmart.

3. Cover up: Weather permitting, wear a hat to cover your head, as well as long-sleeved shirts and pants

4. Keep mosquitoes outside: Use air conditioning and fans (mosquitoes are weak fliers) and make sure to repair and use window/door screens.

Zika virus is a disease that typically produces mild symptoms and the infection often goes unrecognized or even misdiagnosed as dengue fever. Researchers estimate about four out of five people infected with Zika virus don’t know they have it. Common signs to look out for include a slight fever, rash, conjunctivitis (pink eye), headache as well as joint and muscle pain. Because there is no vaccine or cure for Zika, treatment is focused solely on relieving the symptoms, and preventing mosquito bites is considered the best protection against the virus.