The Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District is responsible for providing vector control services for 2,400 square miles of desert valley in Southern California. Laboratory Manager, Jennifer Henke, says 2016 was the year the operation changed—when Aedes aegypti was added to its list of detected species capable of transmitting viruses to people, alongside Culex quinquefasciatus and Culex tarsalis.
Fortunately, the District has not yet been affected by the diseases that Aedes aegypti transmit, yet they are diligent in taking precautionary measures to prevent the spread of any illness. This prompted the decision to implement WALS™, a biorational application strategy to control container mosquitoes in cryptic habitats, using VectoBac® WDG. “We find Aedes aegypti everywhere,” Jennifer says. “So, trying to treat them in the same way as Culex doesn’t work. We need to treat lots of properties at the same time.”
Coachella Valley had never before performed a WALS application directly over residents’ homes, and anticipated residents might have concerns about the new technique. The District strategized along with city officials on ways to educate residents, and ultimately designated a timeframe to address questions and concerns prior to implementing a WALS approach. They distributed door hangers, developed a FAQ document and educated employees on how to answer basic questions from the public. Jennifer says the overall response from the community was positive, supported by a media event where television stations came out to cover this first-of-its-kind spray operation in California.