Reducing mosquito populations, and the diseases they sometimes carry, in cities can be as simple as dumping out standing water on private property. However, not everyone is aware that standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes -- and some urban residents are unmotivated to dump the water even if they are aware. Zara Dowling from the University of Maryland and colleagues administered questionnaires to 242 urban households in the summer of 2010 to examine the relationship between knowledge of standing water and mosquito-borne diseases, the motivation of residents to remove mosquito breeding sites from their property, numbers and species of mosquitoes present on the property and the socioeconomic status of residents.
The researchers found that 54 percent of surveyed households were positive for mosquitoes, with the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, and the common house mosquito, Culex pipiens, being the dominant species; both of these species are known vectors of West Nile virus. However, while knowledge of mosquito-borne disease and mosquito breeding sites was higher among upper-income households than middle-income households, lower-income households and neighborhoods showed greater overall concern about mosquito biting and mosquito-borne disease.
"High general knowledge of mosquitoes and concern about mosquito biting were not sufficient to encourage residents to dump standing water, and even in yards where residents did empty containers, there were still many mosquito breeding sites," said Dowling. "Existing knowledge, motivation and practices are not enough for controlling larval mosquitoes, and aerial spraying for adult mosquitoes carries environmental and health risks. Residents could benefit from community-based education campaigns that include detailed information regarding the types of containers that can hold standing water and the frequency with which they should be emptied to help prevent mosquito-borne illness."
The presentation "Linking resident knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding mosquitoes to socioeconomic factors and vector control," led by Zara Dowling from the University of Maryland, will be held Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 2:10 pm during the "Ecosystem Management" contributed oral session.
This research was presented at the ESA's 96th Annual Meeting, held August 7-12, 2011 in Austin, Texas. The meeting has the theme "Earth Stewardship: Preserving and enhancing the earth's life-support systems."
Materials provided by Ecological Society of America. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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