Integrated Pest Management
Albuquerque and Bernalillo County residents can request mosquito control spraying by calling 311.
Residents who don't wish to have their property sprayed can register on the No-Spray List by calling 311.
- Mosquito control is conducted as a combined City-County effort, following the principles of Integrated Pest Management.
- Mosquitoes are controlled at all life stages through a variety of methods. The goal is effective and efficient control designed to prevent pesticide resistance and to minimize the amount of pesticide released in the environment.
- Protecting public health and ensuring that outdoor activities can be enjoyed safely and comfortably is our underlying mission.
Mosquito Life Cycle
Eggs are deposited in water sources or in mud that is periodically flooded.
The eggs hatch to release larvae. The larval stage mosquitoes will feed on detritus and organic materials found in their aquatic habitat. As the larvae grow and develop they will pass through several stages of progressive development, called instar phases. There are 4 instar stages before the larvae develop into pupae.
The pupal stage is also aquatic, and the pupae continue to swim as final development occurs, although they no longer feed. Eventually the mature adult will emerge at the water surface. The period from egg to adult varies by species and with climate factors, but can take less than a week in optimal conditions.
Aquatic stages of the mosquito life cycle (larvae and pupae) are the easiest to control, because they are confined to the water source in which they are found, and they are concentrated in large numbers that are easily accessible. The Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Disease Division emphasizes control of the immature stages through various methods. These include the following:
- Prevent the accumulation and ponding of water by overturning artificial water containers an keeping them empty (empty cans, bird baths, horse troughs, old tires, etc.
- Backfill low-lying areas whenever possible to prevent water accumulation
- Ensure proper drainage of natural depressions and ditches and encourage frequent dumping and replacement of desirable water sources such as watering troughs or bird baths
- Educate the public about methods for preventing mosquito breeding
- Identify and prevent water preventable sources of standing water in the community, such as unused swimming pools or artificial containers
- Enforce local ordinances that prohibit mosquito breeding conditions on public and private property as necessary
- Mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) are a guppy-like fish that eat mosquito larvae. The Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Disease Division maintains a stock pond for mosquitofish and introduces them into permanent sources of standing water (drainage ditches, retention ponds, etc.) These fish are also distributed free to the public between May and September (to learn how to obtain these fish click here).
- Collaborative efforts with AMAFCA are aimed at encouraging bats to roost near areas where mosquitoes tend to be a problem; bats eat adult mosquitoes along with other insects.
- Surface films and mineral oils can be applied to standing water to change the surface tension of the water. This prevents mosquito larvae from reaching the surface to breathe, and they will die from suffocation. Since this method is a physical means of killing larvae, there is no possibility of resistance developing, and the products used are not harmful to the environment. Surface films are the primary chemical control method used in our control program.
- Bacterial products based on Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis and Bacillus sphaericus introduce live bacteria into water sources that produce toxins that are highly species-specific, killing mosquito and fly larvae.
- Insect growth regulators are used in difficult to access areas where standing water will be present for long periods. These products are brick-like and can be tossed into water sources. They prevent mosquito larvae from properly developing into mature stage adults.
- In severe conditions, a temephos-based insecticide may be used to kill mosquito larvae. Although this product is safe for humans and other mammals, and does not accumulate in the environment, it is not compatible with mosquitofish and is rarely used.
Adult mosquito control requires the use of pesticides, and is less efficient. However, some adult mosquitoes will always be present and this is the stage that can transmit disease to humans and animals. The Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Disease Division provides mosquito spraying to the public as a free service. This service is offered from mid-May until the beginning of October, depending on weather. In most years, the pesticide used for adult mosquito control is based on a synthetic pyrethroid. Pyrethroids are engineered products based on naturally occurring pyrethrin, a natural botanical insect-killing agent derived from chrysanthemum flowers. Every few years, an organophosphate-based insecticide is rotated in as a resistance-prevention measure.
A 1000-foot buffer is maintained around the property as a no-spray area. This list is specifically maintained as part of the mosquito control program; other pesticides may be applied in the area by different agencies for different purposes.