ADMINISTRATION AND FINANCE
The State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board (the Board) is housed within the Department of Agricultural Resources. The Board oversees mosquito control in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts including 11 regional programs (see map below [Click image for full size PDF]). The Board also establishes administrative and technical policy, guidelines, and best management practices to ensure that mosquito control programs are effective and safe.
The Board is composed of 3 members, representing the Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
All mosquito control activities are performed pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 252 of the Massachusetts General Laws and special legislation (Acts and Resolves) that established 9 regional mosquito control projects/districts throughout the state, encompassing 197 municipalities as member communities. Each regional mosquito control project/district is overseen by a board of Commissioners appointed by the SRB, and also employs a director or superintendent to manage day-to-day mosquito control operations.
Through a project administrator and other staff, the Board also manages accounting and fiscal transactions for all mosquito control projects and districts.
The Board also coordinates mosquito control by working closely with state agencies including the Department of Public Health (DPH), Coastal Zone Management (CZM), and the Department of Fish and Game (Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program [NHESP]).
An important priority of mosquito control is early detection of disease threats to the public. The State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board along with the mosquito control districts/projects work closely with the Department of Public Health to ensure an early detection, warning, and response system is in place. Surveillance has become the cornerstone of much of our control efforts. During each mosquito season , staff from mosquito control projects/districts along with the DPH monitor for mosquito-borne viruses in order to be able to respond quickly, before the onset of human illnesses.
Mosquito control projects and districts provide mosquito control using an approach known as Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Operational activities are triggered based upon a number of factors, including but not limited to: standard surveillance information (larval and adult mosquito surveys), public health data, local ecology and topography, costs, local and regional values/needs, and weather conditions. The scope and type of tactics deployed to control mosquitoes may differ from one project/district to another, due to differences in geographic location, topography, and mosquito species. For example, the management strategies for inland fresh water mosquitoes are not necessarily the same as those used for salt marsh species.
Strategies for mosquito management typically used in Massachusetts include the following:
Surveillance: This inspection process involves identification and classification of mosquito breeding sites, assessment of larval presence and distribution, surveys for adult mosquito biting and trapping, and taxonomic identification of mosquitoes species. Surveillance is a cornerstone of mosquito control programs in Massachusetts and enhances the ability of the DPH Arbovirus Program to detect arboviruses of concern including West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.
Catch Basin Management: Treatment of catch basins and storm drains with a larvicide is an effective way to target and control mosquitoes in their aquatic stages and prevent emergence of adult mosquitoes. This method is especially effective against Culex spp., known to be carriers of West Nile Virus, because they typically breed in these structures.
Larviciding: This chemical control method attempts to control the mosquito in its larval form, its most vulnerable stage. As larvae, mosquitoes are confined to a localized, aquatic environment where targeted application of larvicide can be used to to prevent mosquitoes from becoming adults. Products designed to kill larvae or prevent their emergence as adults are include insect growth regulators and biological materials such as bacteria. There are also other low-impact materials that are effective, such as refined oils and monomolecular films that control larvae and pupae by smothering them and cutting off their oxygen supply. Larviciding is a preferred control option because it can reduce the need for adulticides later in the season. Larvicides are typically applied by hand in smaller areas or by aerial application equipment such as helicopters to provide uniform coverage over large areas. Successful aerial larvicide application depends on many factors, including planning, funding availability, and approval of use in ecologically sensitive areas.
Open Marsh Water Management: This management tool employs both physical and biological methods to reduce mosquito breeding areas and increase mosquito control by predators. Using existing features of a salt marsh, ponds, pools, and salt pans are created or enhanced to serve as permanent water habitats for mosquito eating fish, with an added benefit of providing additional habitat for waterfowl.
Selective Ditch Maintenance: This physical control method involves cleaning or removing debris and silt from drainage systems, such as ditches, to maintain watercourses in order to reduce and prevent mosquito breeding areas.
Adulticiding: This is a chemical approach used when needed to control high mosquito densities and suppress mosquito-borne disease (Arbovirus) threats. This approach may involve the use of highly specialized truck-mounted equipment to target treatments to selected areas. If warranted, particularly in the event of public health episodes or emergencies, aerial applications can be used to cover broader areas.
Education: Educating Massachusetts residents about mosquito control issues is a critical part of mosquito management. Mosquito control projects/districts perform educational outreach about mosquito biology, control methods, personal protection, and source reduction tactics around homes such as cleaning gutters, removing or puncturing tires, draining wading pools and birdbaths, etc. For more information about managing mosquitoes and preventing mosquito-borne illnesses, see this DPH webpage