Hinchinbrook Shire, located within the Wet Tropics region of Queensland, is one of the wettest areas in Australia. While this results in the Shire always looking green and lush, it also means we have numerous locations where mosquitoes are able to breed.
Salt marshes, temporary ponds and drains are all potential breeding sites and Council‘s Vector Control Officer regularly monitor and treat these sites where necessary. However, no matter how vigilant we are, there will always be mosquitoes, its just part of living in the Tropics.
The mosquito life cycle has four stages: egg – larvae – pupae – adult. Most growth occurs during the larval stage when the ‘wriggler’ is eating prolifically. Because of this high level of activity and resultant susceptibility to chemicals, most eradication programs are targeted at this stage. Thus, the water bodies are treated with a larvicide that either prevents the larvae from pupating or paralyses the larvae. The larvicides used by Council have a residual effect whereby the chemical remains in the water for some time after the initial treatment. In years past Council did use a fogging machine adjacent to residential areas to kill adult mosquitoes, however this practice is ineffective as it only kills adult mosquitoes that come in contact with the fog. The fog is also non-selective which means it kills other non-harmful or beneficial insects. Due to health and environmental issues, this method of mosquito control is no longer undertaken by Council.
The Aedes ageypti, or ‘Dengue Fever’ mosquito doesn’t breed in these natural waterholes, she prefers to lay her eggs in man made containers, usually found around the home. Potential breeding sites for this mosquito include:
· Uncovered boats and trailers which can collect rain water;
· Bird baths and pot plant saucers;
· Roof guttering;
· Tins, jars and other items often found in backyards.
Under the Public Health Act 2005 council controls mosquito pests on State and Local Government Land. Council’s mosquito control officers regularly treat salt marsh and swamp areas that breed mosquitoes. These areas are breeding grounds for the types of mosquitoes that carry viruses such as Ross River Virus, and Barmah Forest Virus. Generally Ingham area has local transmission of Ross River Virus so all residents should be aware of risks and take appropriate precautions around the home such as:
· use personal insect repellents
· use a plug-in zapper indoors
· screen sleeping and living areas
· wear long, loose clothing outdoors
· use cockroach surface sprays indoors in dark places such as behind cupboards and under beds.
People should prevent mosquito bites during the day, particularly early morning and late afternoon.
The legislation also allows Officers to inspect residential yards and remove or control mosquito breeding. This can be in response to specific complaints or as part of a program. If a program for mosquito control is undertaken it will be advertised in the media. Generally such programs are only undertaken in response to an outbreak of disease such as Dengue Fever.
Under the Public Health Act 2005 all home owners are responsible for their own yards and premises. This means that you must not create a harbourage for mosquitoes and encourage their breeding. You can do this in many simple ways:
· Throw out old containers that are not needed
· Store containers in a dry place
· Tip out containers that can hold water
· Clean out roof gutters.
Ross River Virus:
For more information on Ross River Virus go to the Queensland Health Website:
For more information on Dengue Fever Virus go to the Queensland Health Website:
What you can do to prevent mosquitoes breeding in your yard:
· Inspect your house and yard for pools of water.
· Put sand around the bases of pot plants to absorb water in the dish.
· Dispose of all tins, jars, tyres and other rubbish items that may hold water.
· Keep all open drains and channels free from obstruction, especially weeds, grass and other debris.
· Empty bird baths and pets drinking water at least once a week and clean thoroughly to remove mosquito eggs.
· Cut back and trim trees to prevent leaves and debris from blocking roof guttering.
· Screen all openings to tanks, wells or other large water containers with wire gauze no coarser than 1mm mesh. This prevents mosquitoes from laying eggs.
What you can do to deter mosquitoes:
· There are a number plants that release aromas and oils which repel mosquitoes. You could incorporate these plants into your garden or in pots. All good nurseries should be able to assist you with these plants.
· Wearing long sleeves shirts and trousers minimises skin exposure to mosquitoes. It also covers your skin from the sun.
· Coils and citronella oil burners can be used to deter mosquitoes. These should be closely supervised to reduce the potential of fires occurring.
· Regularly apply insect repellent. There are a number of natural products available at Health shops for those people who are allergic to the common known brands.