Hotel operators are familiar with pest-control strategies to deal with mosquitoes, what with the insects transmitting everything from yellow fever to the West Nile virus. Stan Cope, director of entomology and regulatory services for Terminix, said that the mosquitoes that will transmit Zika are active primarily during the daytime, and they have different preferred breeding locations from other species, giving hotels a plan of attack to reduce the likelihood of their appearance on property.
1. Monitor vegetation
Cope said hotels should pay attention to the types of flora they have on property because anything with dense vegetation can act as a shield against the wind, which mosquito wings are ill equipped to resist. Bromeliads, a type of tropical plant designed to retain water, could potentially harbor mosquitoes on the inside if watered frequently enough.
2. Watch recently watered locations
While both your standard mosquito and the 80-some species that have the ability to carry Zika require stagnant freshwater to survive the larval stage, the creatures carrying Zika are more prone to laying eggs away from lakes and ponds, instead choosing flower pot saucers, gulches and ditches. Pat Hottel, technical director at McCloud Services, said that even hollowed-out areas of trees, gutters and flat roofs where water can rest are also major areas that should be checked, especially after watering the property exterior or following a storm.
3. Treat water features
Any water that accumulates organic debris, considered “dirty water” by many pest-management professionals, is conducive to mosquito life cycles. This includes water features such as fountains, which cannot easily cycle their water when not in use. However, Paul Curtis, manager of technical services at Terminix International, said pest-management professionals can apply chemicals to water features that will prevent eggs from reaching maturity.
4. Disturb breeding locations frequently
Hotels should be inspected for mosquito breeding activity on a regular basis, and Ron Harrison, technical services director at Orkin, said that no water should be left standing for longer than a week without chemicals being applied to it.
5. Stay informed
Zika is noteworthy for its effects on pregnant mothers and unborn children, meaning errant mosquito bites, or the fear of them, may cause negative reactions from guests or employees. Harrison cautions hotels to do their due diligence, but reiterates that Zika is only being carried by a fraction of active mosquitoes. “Other scares, like West Nile virus, have occurred, but they were just localized,” Harrison said. “We are doing well now thanks to education from the media. We have to watch for next season, because if worry goes down then so does education.”