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July-30-10 New Program aims to bite back against Asian Tiger Mosquito
MEDIA CONTACT: Julie Willmot
TRENTON, N.J. - Mercer County is continuing its efforts to control the Asian Tiger Mosquito, and for the next two days will get a helping hand from AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps. Teams from AmeriCorps will go door-to-door in the Trenton area July 30 and August 1 to teach homeowners how to reduce the standing water habitats in which mosquitoes breed. AmeriCorps workers will also be involved in community events, such as tire recycling days and community presentations.
Rutgers University’s Department of Entomology, in collaboration with Monmouth and Mercer County Mosquito Commissions and the United States Department of Agriculture, are working to develop an area-wide management strategy to reduce the presence of the Asian tiger mosquito (ATM). This particular mosquito is not only a serious nuisance, but poses significant public health risks.
“Asian Tiger Mosquitoes present an increasing public health concern for Mercer County, but unfortunately, the pest can be difficult to control due to the larvae's preference for small containers,” said Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes. “Even something as seemingly innocent as a water-filled bottle cap or clogged gutters can become a habitat for this mosquito. We really need the assistance of County residents to reduce the mosquito population, and we applaud AmeriCorps’ efforts to further educate the public on measures to help control the mosquito problem.”
The local campaign is part of a larger grant, established in 2008 by the USDA, to develop a national action plan to eradicate the ATM. The project has already addressed its first goal: to raise awareness of the mosquito and its associated hazards. Now the team needs the help of the community to accomplish its second goal: to eradicate the pest at its source.
“If the Asian tiger mosquito lays its eggs in backyard containers, it makes it very difficult to control,” said Kristen Bartlett, a post-doctoral associate at Rutgers University and a site supervisor for the project. “That’s how we came up with this idea of having volunteers to go out and teach homeowners about how they can reduce mosquitoes in their back yards.”
“AmeriCorps in particular is very good at communicating with the public,” Bartlett said. “It just enables us to reach a lot more people.”
Aedes albopictus, known colloquially as the Asian Tiger Mosquito, first appeared in New Jersey in 1995. Populations of this particular species remained relatively stable until the past few seasons, beginning with a mild winter in early 2006, which allowed many mosquitoes to survive the winter and presented a major public health problem during the summer of 2006. Asian Tiger Mosquitoes proliferate when small containers with standing water avail themselves. Unlike most other mosquitoes, Asian tiger mosquitoes prefer to draw blood from humans. These winged insects can carry not only West Nile virus, but also Dengue and Yellow Fever. In addition, Asian tiger mosquitoes can harbor and spread the Chikungunya virus.
For more information about the Asian Tiger Mosquito program, visit the Mercer County Website or call the Mosquito hotline at (609) 530-7501.