The Board establishes administrative and technical policy, guidelines, and best management practices to insure that mosquito control programs are effective and safe
The Board is composed of three (3) members representing the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
Current members are:
All mosquito control activities and work are performed pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 252 of the Massachusetts General Laws and special legislation (Acts and Resolves) that established nine (9) organized or regional mosquito control projects/districts throughout the state encompassing 194 municipalities as member communities. Each regional mosquito control project is overseen by Commissioners whom the Board appoints to a specific term of service. Each regional mosquito control project employs a director or superintendent to manage the day to day operations.
The Board also through the project administrator position and staff manage all accounting and fiscal transactions for all nine mosquito control projects and districts.
Current staff includes:
Finally, the Board works closely with many state agencies such as the Department of Public Health, Coastal Zone Management (CZM) and Fish and Game (Natural Heritage Endangered Species Program [NHESP]).
Mosquito control projects or districts control mosquitoes using an approach known as Integrated Pest Management or IPM.
An important priority of mosquito control is early detection of disease threats to the public. Surveillance has become the cornerstone of many of the programs efforts. They monitor for mosquito borne viruses in order to respond quickly before the onset of human illnesses during any mosquito season. The State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board along with the mosquito control districts/projects work closely with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to insure an early detection, warning, and response system is in place.
Generally speaking, mosquito control operational activities are triggered based upon a number of factors including but not limited to standard surveillance information such as larval and adult mosquito surveys, public health data, local ecology and topography, costs, local and regional values/needs, weather, and other pertinent conditions. However, the scope and type of tactic deployed to control mosquitoes can differ from one mosquito control 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 for salt march species.
Mosquito control project or district personnel use and integrate variety of mosquito management strategies to suppress annoying mosquito populations and protect public health. The strategies typically used in Massachusetts include the following:
Adulticiding: is a chemical approach 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 that target treatmennts to select areas or if warranted aerial application equipment can be contracted to cover broad areas especially in the event of public health episodes or emergencies.
Biological Control: Placing live mosquito eating fish such as Mosquitofish in aquatic habitats including ditches and ponds to eat mosquito larvae sometimes referred to fish seeding programs. This biological control agent is more commonly used in other states and countries. Closer to home, other larvivorous fish such as the Banded Sunfish have been used in certain areas. However, this type of method is not commonly utilized in MA due to potential negative ecological consequences, lack of rearing facilities specific for mosquito control, government regulations, and ability to overwinter or withstand low water temperatures. This strategy could be used as an educational tool for the public especially children regarding mosquitoes and their biology and control.
Catch Basin Management: A targeted larviciding treatment to catch basins and storm drains to control mosquitoes in their aquatic stages and prevent emergence as adult mosquitoes especially the suspected West Nile Virus vector Culex (sp.) that typically breeds in these structures. The Culex mosquito prefers organic or polluted water habitats to develop.
Education: A critical strategy to educate residents of individual member communities of mosquito control projects or districts about topics including but not limited to 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.
Insecticide Resistance Management (IRM): A true IPM program incorporates IRM testing into its program. IRM includes but is not limited to pesticide product rotation using different products with different modes of action from season to season depending on the time of year and specific species. For example, mosquito control programs will switch to another microbial product after using certain insect growth regulators after a few consecutive years of use for catch basin mosquito species. Mosquito control programs will treat only when necessary based on scientific and local community thresholds and/or trap surveillance data compared to spraying without any reason Mosquito control programs will perform limited resistance assays to detect resistance, establish baseline for susceptibility in mosquito populations, and map when deem necessary and when resources are sufficient to conduct in their service ar
Larviciding: is a chemical method that attempts to control the mosquito in its most vulnerable stage when mosquitoes are confined and localize to prevent the mosquito from becoming adults. Many of the products designed to kill or prevent their emergence such as insect growth regulators and/or biological materials such as bacteria. Also, there are other materials that can be used that are low impact such as refined oils and monomolecular films that control larvae and pupae. Ideally, this option is preferred because it can reduce exposure and amounts of adulticides at a later time. However, it is important to recognize that successful area wide larvicide depends on sufficient funding resources, planning, and may require approval in ecologically sensitive areas such as priority habitat. This approach may include but not be limited to hand use to smaller areas or characteristically aerial application equipment such as helicopters to provide uniform coverage over large areas.
Open Marsh Water Management: is both a physical and biological method that uses existing features of a salt marsh to create or enhance ponds, pools, and pans to serve as reservoirs for mosquito eating fish and habitat for waterfowl and providing access to allow predatory fish to control mosquito larvae.
Selective Ditch Maintenance: is a physical method that involves cleaning or removing debris and silt from drainage systems such as ditches to maintain previously maintained watercourses to reduce and prevent mosquito-breeding sources or potential habitat. This is necessary to due to poor land management practices and population increases in many municipalities.
Surveillance: is a non-chemical inspection method that involves classification of mosquito breeding sites, larval presence and distribution surveys, and adult mosquito biting and trapping surveys, as well as identifying mosquitoes to species. Surveillance is a cornerstone of MA Mosquito control programs and enhances Department of Public Health Arbovirus program collections to detect arbovirus of concern.