Website offers critical mosquito, disease information after Hurricane Harvey

Screenshot of the Mosquito Safari homepage at mosquitosafari.tamu.edu

by Gabriel Saldana, Texas A&M AgriLife Communications

DALLAS — Visitors to the Mosquito Safari website at http://mosquitosafari.tamu.edu will find comprehensive information on common mosquitoes, the diseases they carry and instructions for controlling the pest, said Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologists.

They said the information is critical in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, whose initial rains forced mosquitoes from their habitats into human areas, and whose residual standing waters have created new environments for mosquito breeding.

“The best thing people can do to fight this pest is to arm themselves with knowledge,” said AgriLife Extension entomologist Dr. Mike Merchant, Dallas. “Mosquito Safari gives people the best available scientific information for dealing with these pests, which is especially important following the state’s recent weather events.”

The newly redesigned website identifies the seven types of mosquitoes considered by entomologists to pose the biggest public health concerns. It reviews the diseases they carry by offering in-depth descriptions, video and infographics on effects and symptoms. An interactive “backyard safari” also allows users to explore the places mosquitoes inhabit around the home.

In the face of recent and expected mosquito population surges, Mosquito Safari’s most important offering is mosquito control methods, Merchant said. The site lays out an integrated approach to mosquito control, which includes a range of tools and practices that can be used in tandem to reduce mosquito numbers and to help avoid human contact.

“There are many ways of controlling mosquitoes that involve practices beyond just chemical spray solutions,” Merchant said. “It all depends on the environment where the infestation has occurred. Mosquito Safari is designed to provide control measures for a range of scenarios, using science-backed methods and information.”

Those who wish to learn more about the pests and about what makes the website’s prescribed control methods effective can also use Mosquito Safari to delve deeper into the mosquito’s life cycle. Videos on each stage of the life cycle walk viewers through the mosquito’s development, covering the egg, larva, pupa and adult stages.

“Especially in light of the shocking mosquito numbers we’re seeing now in Harvey-impacted areas, we’re urging people to take advantage of this free, valuable tool,” Merchant said.

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