What Mosquito Control Programs Do

Local governments and mosquito control programs often use an integrated mosquito management (IMM) approach to control mosquitoes. IMM uses a combination of methods to prevent and control mosquitoes that spread viruses like West Nile, dengue, and others. Mosquito control professionals conduct mosquito surveillance, remove places where mosquitoes lay eggs, control mosquito larvae and pupae, control adult mosquitoes, and monitor control efforts.

Conduct Mosquito Surveillance

Mosquito surveillance helps professionals and local governments determine when, where, and how to control mosquitoes before people start getting sick. Mosquito control professionals want to know:

  • How many mosquitoes are in the area?
  • What types of mosquitoes?
  • Where are sources of standing water where mosquitoes lay eggs and where mosquito larvae and pupae live?
  • What germs are they spreading?
  • Will Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insecticides be effective in killing local mosquitoes?
  • Are current mosquito control techniques working?

Local governments and mosquito control agencies use the information gathered through mosquito surveillance to plan control activities. If professionals discover that local mosquitoes are spreading viruses (like West Nile, dengue, Zika), they intensify activities identified in their mosquito control plans.

Person dumping standing water

Remove Places Where Mosquitoes Lay Eggs

Mosquitoes lay eggs on or near water because larvae need water to survive. Professionals and the public can remove standing water to reduce mosquito larvae before they become adult flying mosquitoes.

  • Professionals at local government agencies and mosquito control districts may collect and dispose of illegally dumped tires, clean up and maintain public spaces like parks and greenways, and clean up illegal dumps and roadside trash.
  • You, your neighbors, and your community can remove standing water. Once a week, items that hold water like tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flower pot saucers, and trash containers should be emptied and scrubbed, turned over, covered, or thrown away.
  • If needed, a community cleanup event can be held to remove large items like tires that collect water.
Rain barrel being treated with larvicide

Control Larvae and Pupae

Once mosquito eggs hatch, they become larvae and then pupae. Both larvae and pupae live in standing water. Dumping or removing standing water in and around your home is one way to control larvae. For standing water that cannot be dumped or drained, a larvicide can be used to kill larvae. Larvicides are products used to kill mosquito larvae before they become biting adults.

The public and professionals can use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered larvicides.

  • Professionals treat water-holding structures and containers in public places, like storm drains or urns in cemeteries. They may also treat standing water on private property as part of a neighborhood cleanup campaign.
  • People can treat standing water that cannot be dumped or drained, like rain barrels and pool covers, with larvicides. Always follow label instructionsexternal icon. Learn more about controlling mosquitoes outside your home.
  • Controlling larvae and pupae before they become adults can minimize the need for widespread use of insecticides that kill adult mosquitoes.

Kill Adult Mosquitoes

Truck used to spray adulticides and larvicides

Adult mosquitoes can spread viruses (like West Nile, dengue, or others) that make you sick. When surveillance activities show that adult mosquito populations are increasing or that they are spreading viruses, professionals may decide to apply adulticides to kill adult mosquitoes. Adulticides help reduce the number of adult mosquitoes in an area and reduce the risk that people will get sick.

The public and professionals can use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered adulticides.

Monitor Control Programs

Mosquito control professional collecting mosquito larvae.

To make sure that mosquito control activities are working, professionals monitor the effectiveness of their efforts to control both larvae and adult mosquitoes. For example, if an insecticide did not work as well as predicted, professionals may conduct additional studies on insecticide resistance or evaluate the equipment used to apply insecticides.

Related Resources

What State and Local Mosquito Control Programs Do