Integrated vector management (IVM) is a decision-making process for the optimal use of resources in the management of vector populations. These decisions are made in order to reduce or interrupt transmission of vector-borne diseases, and prevent nuisance vector populations from impacting the quality of life.
The approach seeks to improve the efficacy, cost-effectiveness, ecological soundness and sustainability of vector control activities.
The key objectives of Integrated Vector Management include:
- The selection of proven vector control methods based on knowledge of vector biology and ecology, and disease transmission.
- Utilizing of a range of interventions, separately or in combination and often synergistically, integrating all available and effective measures, whether chemical, biological, or environmental.
- Collaborating within the health sector and with other public and private sectors that impact vector control.
- Engaging local communities and other stakeholders.
- Knowledge and compliance with public health regulatory and legislative frameworks.
- The rational use of insecticides.
The District’s management policy for mosquito control is to use the objectives of IVM in the following four fields: education, source reduction, biological control, and chemical control. These four fields are necessary for the success of a balanced and comprehensive Integrated Vector Management program.
To learn more about mosquito IVM practices please refer to the District's IVM Plan.
The District has a multifaceted mosquito education program that includes:
- Presentations and participation in local outreach events to educate the public about mosquito control practices.
- The creation and distribution of numerous Public Service Announcements (PSAs) that explain how to reduce mosquito populations.
- Extensive literature on mosquito control practices, insects resembling mosquitoes, diseases that are transmitted by mosquitoes and many other publications are available in print and electronically.
- Inspectors educate homeowners and neighborhood groups about mosquito-breeding sources on their property and how to prevent or eliminate them.
- Staff attends local and national educational conferences to learn about advances in mosquito control techniques, products, and other measures to better educate and protect the public from mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases.
Manipulating or eliminating potential mosquito breeding sources can provide a dramatic reduction in mosquito populations. District staff educates property owners on ways they can manage mosquito sources on their property. Staff also works with large land managers to restore and maintain water flow or circulation in systems that become clogged with sediment and debris or over run with vegetation.
The District uses mosquito fish (Gambusia affinis) as biological control agents in water sources that can sustain immature mosquitoes. These fish are not native to California, so they are only used in water sources that do not connect or drain to natural water bodies. Sources that would fall under this category would be unused swimming pools and or spas, ornamental ponds, water troughs, etc.
>>> Click for more information on Mosquito Fish.
Mosquito fish are a critical part of Orange County Vector Control District's integrated approach to mosquito control. Mosquito fish are opportunistic feeders, have a tremendous appetite for mosquito larvae, and are very effective at preventing the production of mosquitoes in isolated water containers or systems that are too large to dump out or easily drain. For example, these fish are ideal for controlling mosquitoes in non-chlorinated, out-of-service swimming pools and ornamental ponds. They should not be used in situations where they might escape into natural waterways and become pests, as these fish are not native to California and all distribution of these fish is regulated by the California Department of Fish and Game.
Mosquito fish grow to a maximum size of about 2 inches in length and typically live 2-3 years, but may exceed this lifespan if conditions are favorable. They are live-bearing and can produce up to 3-5 broods per year, with each brood containing from 30-100 young fish. Young fishwill be eaten by larger fish unless they are provided with aquatic vegetation or other refuge that is dense enough to offer protection. Mosquito fish can tolerate a wide range of temperatures and water quality conditions, and are quite tolerant of pollution. They prefer sunlit areas of water and do not thrive in heavily shaded waters. During the summer these fish are most active, whereas in winter they become inactive, move to the bottom of waters, and reduce their feeding.
Mosquito fish eat a broad range of food sources (e.g., plants and animals) and will consume most types of available prey; one fish is capable of eating over 100 mosquito larvae per day. Feeding these fish is not necessary unless stocking pond used to hold such fish is new and bare of vegetation. In this case, tropical fish flakes or other commercial fish food are suitable to use as feed.
To see a video of mosquito fish eating mosquito larvae, click here.
To pick up your own mosquito fish, click here.
The District uses chemical control products when source reduction and biological control are not possible or efficacious. Chemical control of mosquitoes is often grouped into larviciding and adulticiding. Larviciding is a general term for the application of nonliving natural materials or synthetic chemical products to aquatic habitats to kill mosquito larvae or pupae or to otherwise prevent emergence of adult mosquitoes. Larvicides can be applied in a wide variety of formulations using a broad range of application technologies. Adulticides target adult mosquitoes. Chemical control efforts in Orange County are largely confined to larvicides, as they are the most effective means of control in the majority of breeding sources found in the County. Breeding sources treated for mosquitoes can include, but are not limited to, gutters, underground storm drains, marshes, unused swimming pools, etc. In certain habitats, such as coastal marshes, larviciding and adulticiding are used to target larvae and adult mosquitoes.
To learn more about adult mosquito applications, see the treatment schedule listed here. To learn more about mosquito IVM practices please refer to the District's IVM Manual.