What is Vector Control?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

When humans eradicate birds, insects, or mammals in an attempt to reduce or eliminate disease pathogens that they are thought carry, it is known as vector control. Several methods of this approach to pest control are employed, from habitat control to the use of insecticides. The most widely used type of vector control is used on mosquito populations in attempt to prevent malaria.

Killing mosquitoes, which often spread disease, is one form of vector control.
Killing mosquitoes, which often spread disease, is one form of vector control.

Vector control does not wholly eliminate disease pathogens, nor does it fully protect humans against contracting a disease. It has been proven effective, however, in reducing the numbers of infected animals that humans are exposed to. A vector may be any organism that is known to carry disease pathogens, such as rats, birds, or mosquitoes.

A vector may be any organism that is known to carry disease pathogens, such as rats.
A vector may be any organism that is known to carry disease pathogens, such as rats.

The process of vector control is an old practice that has been used in many countries. Low-cost efforts, such as the movement of stagnant water away from its source through trench digging and other methods, is a traditional, popular form of vector control. Stagnant water removal is considered an effective way to eradicate insects, especially diseases carrying mosquitoes. This type of pest control is also known as habitat control.

Many areas where mosquitoes and other insects are known to breed heavily, such cities located near rivers or lakes, employ regular insecticide applications to lower the risk of exposure to the vectors. Some cities may spray insecticide around residential areas, especially during the warm seasons. Many citizens also use vector control to eliminate insects through the use of pest control services, mosquito repelling agents, and other products.

Introducing sterilized mosquitoes into the wild is a form of pest control employed by many government agencies. This method reduces the insects' breeding rate, lowering their overall population. Using larvicides to target mosquito larvae is another popular method of pest control with similar results. These chemicals may either kill the larvae, or simply alter their growth cycles.

Both individuals and government officials have been known to employ vector control in order to eradicate mammals. Some regularly treat, or employ pest control services to treat, their homes for rodents that are known to carry diseases, such as mice and rats. This is often done through the use of traps, poisonous tracking powders, or rodenticides. Rodent prevention, such as sealing or patching holes and keeping homes clean, is also a popular method of vector control.

The methods used to eradicate bird populations often include the use of mite insecticides. Mites that feed on birds are typically responsible for the diseases they carry. Mite insecticides should usually only be used by a professional. People can also remove items from their yards or homes that might attract birds, such as nests, bird baths, and bird houses.

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for wiseGEEK and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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