Pest control measures stepped up to control mosquito population after UAE flooding

Thermal fogging and smart traps used near breeding grounds in post-flood response

Thousands of mosquito traps placed across the UAE

Thousands of mosquito traps placed across the UAE
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In the wake of last week's unprecedented storm in the UAE, attention has turned to community defences against diseases carried by mosquitoes, which can thrive in stagnant water.

Severe wet weather often brings concerns that it could create vast areas with suitable breeding conditions for mosquitoes.

In response, pest controllers are combining traditional and more modern techniques to curb the spread of the insects.

While some residential areas are increasing traditional thermal fogging in the early hours, others are using Dh3,000 smart devices to reduce mosquito populations.

People are looking to install these standardised smart systems, and we’re also going to use fogging to treat the breeding sites
Muhammad Manqoosh, Nagina Pest Control

Rentokil Boecker is one of the pest control companies called in to set up thousands of eco-friendly mosquito traps, which lure bugs by mimicking a human scent.

Dinesh Ramachandran, technical and safety health environment manager at the company, said the fast-working traps have already been set up in some of the worst areas hit by flooding.

“The traps mimic human breathing,” he said.

“They use carbon dioxide and a small chemical pack of human sweet scent [an artificial odour that mimics the smell of human skin].

“These are the two things that are important for mosquitoes to get attracted to humans, and how they select their host.”

Stagnant water

Some pest controllers prevent the spread of mosquitoes by eliminating breeding sources, such as stagnant water, or introducing natural predators to man-made ponds, such as fish or amphibians.

Rentokil uses solar-powered machines connected to carbon dioxide cylinders to replicate human emissions, sucking mosquitoes into nets from a 20-metre radius of the device.

A timer releases CO2 and scents at dawn and dusk. Such devices are currently being used in areas such as The Villa (113 traps), Villanova (65) and Mudon (107) in Dubai. The smart traps are also in place in Al Zorah in Ajman and Sharjah.

Serena, Cherrywood and Remraam, an area that saw considerable standing water during heavy rain, are also due to have devices installed.

“These smart traps were championed in Abu Dhabi a few years ago, and were very effective,” Mr Ramachandran told The National.

“A GPS has since been attached to some of those systems, which tells us which traps are collecting the most mosquitoes.

“It helps identify hotspots and gives an idea if there is breeding so we can make calculated decisions to move in additional units.

“With the recent weather changes, we’ve had plenty of requests from domestic clients, hotels and resorts, factories and other industries.”

As part of the rapid response to the floods, Dubai Land Department called on residential management companies and real estate developers to offer comprehensive pest control services, free of charge.

Community response

Other communities have also since stepped up alternative pest control measures, to reduce populations of mosquitoes.

In Damac Hills, extra thermal fogging runs have been conducted this week from 1am to 4am.

“We have been doing and will continue with, regular fogging treatment processes working in association with the city’s reputed pest control companies,” a representative for the community management said.

“We also routinely carry out pest control treatments directly in the lakes and water-features in order to contain infestation of any kind.”

Nagina Pest Control in Al Qusais covers communities in Dubai, offering thermal fogging using organic compounds and diesel fumes to drive out mosquito populations.

Muhammad Manqoosh, managing director, said demand for pest control services was likely to increase in the weeks ahead.

“Although the flooded water has gone from many places, any remaining stagnant water is going to cause problems with mosquitoes in the coming days, and weeks,” he said.

“As temperatures rise though, that should help keep mosquito populations down.

“People are looking to install these standardised smart systems, and we’re also going to use fogging to treat the breeding sites.

“But first we need to identify where the breedings are.”

While apartment call-outs are generally for cockroach infestations, the heaviest demand for mosquito control is in villa communities with gardens.

Mr Manqoosh, who has been working in pest control for 12 years, said people can protect their homes by checking anywhere with accumulated standing water that could help proliferate mosquito growth.

“Fogging helps us to get the chemicals into the gaps, scratch crevices or these tight areas where mosquitoes are hiding and looking for shade,” he said.

“We only use ministry approved chemicals, and there are more than 300 available."

Updated: April 26, 2024, 2:00 AM