For years, mosquito management in urban areas was left primarily to government entities that relied heavily on spraying from the back of trucks after dark. That dynamic, however, has changed. More pest management professionals are adding mosquito control to their service offerings as concerned home and business owners, influenced heavily by the recent and well-documented outbreak of the Zika and other mosquito-transmitted viruses, look for protection.

So how does a longtime supplier of trapping devices, used primarily to trap rodents and insects, plant its flag in a market where the stakes are so high? It does so by bringing to market a product it didn’t intend to develop but that has the potential to be a valuable tool for pest professionals looking to deliver an effective mosquito treatment.

The AP&G Catchmaster Ovi-Catch Mosquito Trap uses Catchmaster AGO Trap Replacement glueboards with a specially formulated adhesive designed to catch mosquitoes during the critical breeding cycle when females look for a location to lay their eggs.

The trap was initially developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at the agency’s Puerto Rico research and testing facility. Researchers at the facility were using AP&G adhesive in various projects but as work on the trap accelerated during the Zika virus scare, so did AP&G’s role consulting with CDC on the project.

“Initially AP&G was just going to provide the glueboards for the bucket but after looking at the growing need for a reliable surveillance tool it decided to pursue making the entire product,” says Dr. Stan Cope, AP&G’s vice president of technical products and services, who joined the company full-time in 2017.

After securing a non-exclusive license for the trap and working with the CDC’s parent organization, the National Institutes of Health, AP&G lent its large-scale manufacturing muscle to the process.

“As more pest professionals start to offer mosquito control services we see the need to bolster their toolbox with a dual threat product that can assist with monitoring and surveillance but can also effectively knock down populations,” says Jonathan Frisch, vice president global sales/marketing for AP&G.

AP&G introduced the product to the professional pest management industry earlier this year and the company is working with distributors to market it to PMPs and other customers.

AP&G’s Ovi-Catch AGO Mosquito Trap is a surveillance tool designed to catch female mosquitoes during the breeding cycle.

Frisch says the company’s desire to evolve further into the mosquito segment was the driver for bringing Cope on board with an assignment to expand the company’s technical and research efforts, as well as help educate pest professionals on best practices for mosquito control.

A U.S. Navy veteran with more than two decades of active duty service, Cope is a well-recognized expert on the history of medical entomology and yellow fever. During his time in the Navy, he held a variety of assignments, conducting operational and research entomology in 18 countries. He served as director, Armed Forces Pest Management Board, and director, Defense Pest Management, where he had oversight of all aspects of pest management for the Department of Defense. He also served as president of the American Mosquito Control Association in 2016.

VALUE TO PMPs. As more pest management professionals enter the growing mosquito control market, both Frisch and Cope say better monitoring and assessment tools are needed.

“The chemical products available to the industry, while fewer in number versus years past, do a good job but there is a need for tools to allow PMPs to do the true work of pest management and that starts with pest monitoring,” says Cope.

The AGO trap is a versatile tool that can help pest professionals evaluate mosquito population levels, identify breeding locations and reduce population levels. Designed for outdoor use, the trap is effective in controlling mosquitoes, such as Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, which are known carriers of chikungunya, dengue and Zika viruses. It is also effective at capturing Culex pipiens, a major vector of West Nile virus and other diseases.

“It is becoming more common for the pest management industry to fill in service gaps left by local mosquito abatement districts that can’t deliver needed services due to budget or staffing concerns,” says Cope.

AP&G’s Frisch says the public health threat presented by mosquitoes has challenged the industry to look at alternative control strategies and new technology. “We want to provide smart-science solutions that allow pest professionals and others charged with mosquito management to deliver effective services that protect the public,” he adds.

When developing a mosquito management program, Cope says PMPs need to think holistically and deploy a variety of tools. The AGO trap fits well into a balanced program that does not rely on just one method to achieve the desired result. Tips for using the AGO trap include:

  • Property Monitoring and Assessment — Technicians should not treat every shrub on a commercial or residential property. Using an AGO trap to monitor before a treatment is made can direct a technician to mosquito “hot spot” areas and help identify root causes of the infestation.
  • Evaluation of Service Performance — AGO bucket traps can be used to measure the effectiveness of a service. The buckets are likely to intercept mosquitoes before breeding sites are established and thus knock down populations. If there isn’t a noticeable reduction in population a change in tactics may be in order.
  • Identifies Missed Breeding Sites — There are many cryptic breeding sites on a property — clogged gutters, tree holes, in ground drains for irrigation systems, curled up corrugated plastic downspouts, etc. If a bucket trap is still getting hits, more work is needed to identify breeding locations.
  • Better Pest Identification — As new invasive mosquito species make their way to the United States, AGO bucket traps can help with more accurate and timely pest identification. They also can serve as an early warning system for industry and public health officials of the arrival of new species.
  • Population Reduction — Considering that the typical backyard mosquito lays up to 150 eggs after a meal, catching one female mosquito has the potential to take up to 1,200 mosquitoes out of circulation.

As the demand for mosquito control services grows, so will the need for more diverse tools. Cope said suppliers like AP&G can help pest professionals by developing products that leave a smaller environmental footprint and that allow them to have the right tool, at the right time and in the right place to control mosquitoes.

The author is a communications and marketing consultant with B Communications. He can be reached at jfenner@b-communications.com.