Mosquito Control Tips for Apartment Properties

 

Picnics and outdoor grilling traditionally mark each Memorial Day, but the holiday that signals the near end of spring and start of summer also is the beginning of mosquito season. Summer barbecues at apartment patios and evening walks can be disrupted or ended by the sting of one backyard pest that has generated much attention lately.

Last year was the second-worst outbreak of West Nile virus, which is transmitted to humans by the bites of infected mosquitoes. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there were 5,674 cases – including a record 286 deaths – reported in the lower 48 states, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Texas reported one-third of the outbreaks and as many deaths.

This year could be just as bad, depending on weather conditions. But apartments now have a new weapon in their arsenal to fight mosquitoes, and deployment is as easy as turning on the irrigation system.

Mosquito Injectors Provide High-Tech Mosquito Control

In recent months, a new wave of mosquito injectors and misting systems has been introduced for commercial use for mosquito control. While not new to the residential market, the injector systems are being marketed with enough firepower to work with large irrigation systems found at multifamily properties.

Sprinkler system or weapon of mass mosquito destruction?

Unlike mosquito mist systems, mosquito injectors work in unison with established sprinkler systems. A bio-friendly mosquito repellent is injected directly into the sprinkler system – some zones or all – on demand. Treatments can be isolated by zone as needed, or to give special attention to high-use common areas like the pool, outdoor gathering spaces, and playgrounds.

Mosquito mist systems are self-contained, usually confined to high-traffic areas and must be installed separately from irrigation systems. Specific areas are treated using misting nozzles that are connected by nylon tubing lines that transport a highly diluted mixture of insecticide and water. While they are proven fighters in the battle for mosquito control, misting systems must be maintained separately and use a secondary water source to an irrigation system.

With injector systems, every spray head potentially becomes a weapon to control mosquitoes on the property.

Mosquito Control That’s Eco-Friendly

The systems fight mosquitoes with a concentrate typically made from garlic or citronella, which does not require Environmental Protection Agency or hazardous chemical regulation. There is no toxicity; it’s just natural, organic materials that flow for two or three minutes through the irrigation system.

When the sprinklers are running, the injector system distributes a concentrate from a container, usually stored in the control box, into the water flow. For best results, run the mosquito control application separately from the regular irrigation cycle so that the concentrate is not diluted too much.

Update Existing Irrigation Systems

A big plus for injector systems is that they most often can be retrofitted to existing irrigation systems quickly and inexpensively. Installation takes only about an hour per controller box and costs $600-$1,500 depending on manufacturer.

An actuator is installed in water line and the injector system is wired in to the existing irrigation system’s controller. When the injector system is in run mode, the appropriate valves are opened to enable the concentrate to flow.

Key to the system, however, is the location of the zones and how they work together. Newer properties typically install a good balance of zones, which makes them perfect candidates for the injector systems.

Mosquito Prevention Tips that Take the Sting Out of Summer

No matter what type of mosquito control system is established, the key to minimizing the impact of mosquitoes is prevention. Eliminate stagnant, standing water, which is the ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes.

The first step to doing so is walking the property each day, usually in the afternoon after standing water resulting from the morning irrigation has had time to soak in or evaporate. If water is standing a few hours after watering on a hot, sunny day, there is likely a problem. Address problem areas and repair.

Also, check for standing water in potted plant saucers, storm drain, and potholes. Inspect to identify dripping spigots, leaking sprinklers, and standing water resulting from A/C drainage. And don’t forget to treat small pods and planter saucers with larviside cakes for up to 30 days.

Controlling mosquitoes around the property can be as high-tech as integrating treatment with an existing irrigation system or as low-tech as reducing the potential for breeding grounds. Either way, properties should get a jump on a plan to help keep residents safe from adverse side effects attributed to the pinch of a mosquito.

 

 


President, Earthworks

author photo two

Chris Lee is President of Dallas, Texas-based Earthworks, which specializes in multifamily housing landscaping. He is a contributing author to Landscape Management magazine, licensed irrigation specialist and a Toro Intellisense certified technician. Chris studied business at the University of Arkansas from 1990-94 and horticulture and landscape design at Tarrant County College from 1999-01. He has been employed at Earthworks since 1998.

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